In Praise of the Vilified Prologue: Top 10 Novels with Prologues

Cindy Fazzi

Loving Frank Photo-Cindy Fazzi “Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan is a great example of a book with an effective prologue.

In Elmore Leonard’s famous 10 rules for writing, the second rule is: Avoid prologues. “They can be annoying,” he wrote. “A prologue in a novel is back story, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.”

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  51xPHwS9JdL__SX297_BO1,204,203,200_Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is best read by the flicker of a fireplace, a cup of English tea and a warm throw over one’s knees. I read Outlander years ago and now that the series has come to the TV screen, I’ve begun reading the series again. Honestly, I think it is even better the second time around. And it doesn’t take away a thing from the novel that I now have flesh and blood characters to inhabit the protagonists. And what characters they are.

If you haven’t read Diana’s novels, then you are missing a wonderful historical romance, filled with heart pounding adventure and a love story that transcends time and place. So don’t wait. Grab a cup of tea, light a candle if you don’t have a fireplace and settle down on a cold fall afternoon or evening and get ready to inhabit Scotland and those very interesting kilts!


K. D. Dowdall



Carefully light a candle,

Hold the candle in your hand

Feel the positive energy flowing into you.

Recite the Following:

I open my eyes to all the power

Of Earth, Sky, and Sun

I Wish for Health and Happiness

May these Energies stay within me

With all my Good Intentions,

Blow out the Candle repeating your Wish!

And Believe!!

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Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants

Author, Sara Gruen is an excellent novelist. I read Water for Elephants a few years ago and from time to time, I reread my favorite novels. This novel is one of them. While I enjoyed the movie with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, the novel is far better.

Sara’s research on traveling Circuses during great depression is richly detailed without overtaking the essence of the story or characters. The novel opens with ninety year old Jacob Jankowski ensconced in a dreary nursing home. He’s grumpy and taciturn. The food is bland and the old ladies are to him, a gaggle of hens. More and more, Jacob finds his thoughts turning to the past and the life he once lived long ago as a circus vet. Jacob remarks that he is ninety or ninety-three, but at his age, he is not longer counting. We are drawn into his memories and so the story begins.

When Jacob’s parents are killed in an auto accident, he is forced to leave his last year at Cornell where he’d been studying to become a verternarian. Penniless, he hits the road and hops a train that happens to be the Benzini Brothers traveling circus. He is hired as the show’s vet.

Jacob faces danger on a daily basis, not only because of his growing attraction to Marlena, the beauty who is the star equestrian act of the circus, but because of her husband, August, a ring master who is a bully and quick with a jealous, evil temper. These are hard times and circuses are failing. The boss, Big Al, who decides the life and death of many of the hired hands, desires an elephant, a trained elephant that can bring the rubes (hapless townspeople) into the big tent.

Big Al gets his elephant. Her name is Rosie and she doesn’t seem to understand any directions at all. She’s sweet, but gets into trouble. August, the bad tempered husband of Marlena, cruelly beats Rosie to get her to perform. Jacob finds that Rosie does not understand English. Her former trainer was Polish. Together, Jacob and Marlena strive to protect and save Rosie. August sees their attraction and attempts to get Jacob Red-lighted, which means to be thrown of the moving train at midnight. No spoilers here.

Water for Elephants is a fascinating read, filled with danger, acts of evil, overwhelming kindness, and enduring love.

I highly recommend this wonderful novel.

Dancing with Baby


She fills the sink

Till the bubbles rise

And she sighs

Just like her dreams

The bubbles pop and disappear

Till she is left with only her fears

Baby’s pulling at her knee

She picks him up and twirls him


The radio is playing its musical fantasy

Vibrating the air

And in the kitchen, there

She dances with baby on her hip

And because she loves

The laughter on his sweet face

She makes herself content to wait

To realize the dreams she needs

To make her life complete

Historical and Tragic


 The Life She Was Given, by author,  Ellen Marie Wiseman is a fictional account of the traveling circuses of the 1930’s. The author extensively researched the subject to the point where it nearly overwhelmed the story.

However, the writing was very good and I was thoroughly engaged for most of the novel. While I’m not a fan of spoilers, there will be one here because I feel it is only fair to the reader.

The novel involves two young women decades apart, but are linked by a mysterious and tragic past.  Julia Blackwood returns home to inherit her families’ horse farm. Her parents’ kept a secret that was monstrous. The secret was about another girl, a daughter named Lily. The novel transitions from the past to the near present as Julia seeks to learn more about the mystery. The mystery involves Lily, a beautiful child who was born an albino. The mother kept her locked in the typical Victorian attic her entire young life. At the age of seven, the mother sells Lily to a traveling circus.

Lily goes from the attic prison to another sort of prison. She is owned by a brutal circus boss who uses Lily’s gift with people and her affinity for animals for years to add to his own fortune. She is kept penniless and in fear of being sent to an asylum, as was common in those days for people with disabilities. But, she is befriended by other circus “freaks” and along the way falls in love with the young and handsome Cole who works with the circus elephants. Pepper is an extremely smart elephant, and is loved by both Lily and Cole, but tragedy strikes and Pepper is horribly murdered for protecting her offspring, Jojo. Cole and Lily try to save Pepper, but both are brutalized by the circus owners. 

In the end, the mystery is solved, but the ending for Lily is so brutal and so gut wrenching, I was shocked and sickened. While I don’t need happy endings, I expect, in fiction at least, a more humane ending. I rate the ending as a horror story.  So, while it is an interesting story, I say, reader be forewarned.