NOTE****Robert Hough is a Canadian author.
Written as a fictional autobiography in the first person, 'The Final Confession of Mabel Stark' is a true life historical account of Mabel Stark who made a name for herself by becoming the world's greatest female tiger trainer during the early to mid-1900's when the circus was the most popular form of entertainment. Stark was a centre-ring act for the famous Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Now 80-years-old, Mabel recounts her life and confesses to the proud and not so proud moments and events of her life, from a rebellious teenager growing up in Kentucky as Mary Hanie, through five marriages, and at least a dozen severe maulings by the very tigers she become world famous for training. Through the colourful and descriptive narration you feel as though you've been transported back in time and are there, with Mabel, observing from somewhere underneath the Big Top! You can almost smell the oil from the tiger's skin, breathe in the heady scent of the straw bales set out as seats for circus goers, and hear the crack of the tiger trainer's whip, and shouts of instruction to the animals!!
Mabel, a woman filled with love, courage, strength, tragedy, and adventure is not reluctant to show her abrasive sides. She is not a woman to hold her tongue or pussy-foot her way around etiquette and manners, and is not adverse to projecting her tough-as-nails persona, creating antagonism, or speaking about her sexually promiscuous exploits.
Robert Hough proves to us in this great piece of writing that even us imperfect flawed human beings can contribute to society in positive and remembered ways. Mabel's quick wit, sharp tongue and indelible stubbornness will leave you wanting to hear more of little Mary Hainie's life. I couldn't put this book down and didn't want it to end. I will certainly remember Mabel Stark for some time to come.
May 7, 2011