Tuesday was publication day for Ellen Marie Wiseman’s fifth novel, THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN (Kensington). We were fortunate to meet Ellen in May at BookExpo in New York City and get an autographed copy, that we’re giving away to one lucky Thoughts on This ‘n That follower.

THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN begins in the Dickstonian-esque lurid world of a Dickensian-era traveling circus. It’s 1931 and Lilly Blackwood’s mother believes her daughter is a “monster” and keeps her locked in a narrow attic bedroom. Lilly is only able to see the world through one grimy window. Her mother says it’s for Lilly’s protection, that people would be fearful of her. But one night, after being in the attic for ten years, Lilly’s mother takes her from the safety of her room and outside Blackwood Manor. That night her mother sells her and Lilly becomes a sideshow for a traveling circus. 

Lilly’s older sister, unaware of Lilly, Julia flees Blackwood Manor because her parents were severly strict and abusive. More than ten years later, Julia inherits her parents home and returns to the place with the terrible memories. But while trying to put those disturbing years with her parents behind her, she discovers a hidden attic room. In that tiny room, she discovers pictures of circus scenes and a curious young girl. In her heart, she knows there is much more to the pictures and she begins her search to solve that mystery.

THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN is about family secrets and a horrific betrayal. The narrative alternates between Lilly and Julia’s stories. At times heartbreaking (keep tissues close by), THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN has brief moments of  hope. Ellen’s prose are simply beautiful and lyrical, but I found myself completely drained after reading this novel. It was as if I’d listened to Gustav Mahler for an hour, as opposed to something light and playful by Mozart. Both are uniquely brilliant, but each leave you with a different feeling.

On a personal note, Ellen has two Shih-Tzus, and being I have my rescue, Sassy, I feel a kindred spirit to her. We Shih-Tzu owners are a rather grateful bunch for our “little lions.”.

.me & sass


Ellen Marie Wiseman discovered her love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in upper New York State.

Her debut novel THE PLUM TREE—a WWII story about a young German woman trying to save the love of her life, a Jewish man—was inspired by her mother’s childhood in Germany during the Second World War. The book was published in 2013. Wiseman’s second novel, WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND, published in 2014, centers on the now-shuttered Willard Asylum for the Insane in Ovid, near Seneca Lake, New York, and involves a woman wrongly committed. COAL RIVER , Wiseman’s 2016 novel, revolves around the efforts of a young woman to help at-risk workers in the Pennsylvania col mines.

Originally from Three Mile Bay, New York, Wiseman lives on Lake Ontario with her husband, two spoiled Shih-Tzus and a rescued Labrador. She loves to read, cook, garden, go to drive-ins, travel and spend time with her grandchildren.

We have one signed copy of THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN to giveaway. Just tell us which of Ellen’s novels is your favorite. We’ll announce a winner next week.

65 thoughts on “*THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN by Ellen Marie Wiseman & SIGNED GIVEAWAY

  1. I have not read any of her work, however, from the descriptions, I can say I feel I would like some of the books quite a bit….this one for sure! Thanks for the opportunity! Your doggie is adorable. We recently lost our little mini daschund and I still almost hear her little footsteps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Bonnie. I would love it if you’d check out my books!! And I’m so very sorry about your little dog. It’s so heart-breaking to lose a fur baby. 😥

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Plum Tree is my favorite novel since I am Jewish, enjoy WW11 novels and this book is meaningful and profound. I have read all of Ellen’s books which are memorable and would love this new release.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words about THE PLUM TREE. I’m so glad you found it meaningful. I hope you’ll check out THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am looking forward to reading this book by Ellen. I have read some reviews and it has already spoken to my heart. Thanks for chance!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually have all of her books (except this one) but have not read them yet! Have heard wonderful things about all of them!! Thanks for the chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. She is a new author to me I have not read any of her books yet. They all look really good. Would love to win this book I heard such good things about it. Thank you for the chance Cindy Roesel.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t read any of her novels as of yet, but after reading this, I now want to read them all. I love finding new to me authors. And apparently we are pretty much neighbors because I too live by Lake Ontario in New York. Thank you for the chance at winning one.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t read any but really want to read this one!! I’m a Shih Tzu momma myself. My Scout will be 8 in September! He’s the sweetest boy around!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have not read any of Ellen Marie Wiseman work. I enjoy learning of ‘new to me’ authors and look forward to readying this book. Thank you~

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mine would definitely be: COAL RIVER. My Dad’s Grandfather came to live in Pennsylvania from Lithuania in the early 1900’s. He and his wife lived in Carbondale, and he worked in the mines. It was the only kind of work he knew; having worked as a coal miner in the Old World. Life was very difficult. My grandfather, along with his brothers, had to bring home a bag full of coal everyday. They’d pick it up off of the mountainsides. My Grandpa followed his Dad into the mines after he finished school. His Mother ran a boarding house for miners, so that the boys could finish scool. A privilege, indeed, in that place at the time. My Dad remembers when my Grandpa broke his back in a mine cave in. He never wrked in the mines again.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I haven’t read any of Ellen’s work yet but The Plum Tree sounds like something I would love. I am looking forward to reading The Life She Was Given as well. Thank you for the chance to win!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you so much for the wonderful review and for spreading the word about my new book, THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN!!! And yes, I’m beyond grateful for my little lions, Izzy & Bella!! Love them so much! Sassy is a cutie!

    Liked by 1 person

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