Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Final Confession of Mabel Stark - Robert Hough

The Basics: The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, Robert Hough, 2001, 430 pages, hard cover.

How I found it: After I reviewed Water for Elephants, my friend Melinda recommended that I read this book since the subject matter is somewhat similar.

What's it about?: This is a fictionalized account of a real person's life (similar to Wayne Johnston's fictionalized accounts of Joey Smallwood and Robert Peary's lives). Here the real person is Mabel Stark, the world's foremost tiger trainer in the circuses of the 1920s. Her life is far from ordinary involving many different husbands and one very special tiger, among other things.

Did I like it?: I discovered that I really enjoy the fictionalized biography genre when I first read Wayne Johnston's work. It is not a genre that turns up very often, but when it does it had better be well researched or I won't like it. Hough's book seems to be very well researched, although he apparently took license with a few major plot points and embellished here and there. But that is really part of the genre so it is forgivable. Like Water for Elephants, I really enjoyed this book. It was perhaps not as well written, but the plot was quite engaging.

Will you like it?: Mabel Stark's life is a great story and worth reading. There is not a lot of magic in Hough's writing, but the plot carries itself. Stark is a likable female lead and even if her life is far removed from that of most women, I found her easy to relate to. Besides, you have to love a woman who said: "You can't mix tigers and husbands. And anyhow, I prefer the tigers."

But don't take my word for it: A collection of info and editorial reviews from, mostly positive reader reviews, a review from a blogger at the Lewiston Tribune, one from the Northern Rivers Echo, and one from Citypaper Online that mentions that Mabel Stark's life is being made into a movie starring Kate Winslet.


  1. I thought the highlight would of this entry would be that I'm mentioned (yay!). Then I hoped the highlight would be that you liked the book, too (double yay!). THEN all hopes went shooting far higher than I imagined when you mentioned that not only is a book I love being made into a movie, but it is being made into a movie with KATE WINSLET. Oh my gawd! I love love LURVE Kate Winslet, and I don't care who knows it. LOVE! You have made me so happy! I sure hope it's true...

  2. See, look how excited I am--I can't even type properly! (Man, I even reread what I wrote the first time so that I wouldn't do something dumb like type a word twice!) Argh. Oh well--KATE!