Thanks to Megha's review http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/39133771. I had lowered expectations of this, after all the other rave reviews.
I realise it has several flaws and doesn't innovate in any way but if you're looking for a good old story to relax into, you couldn't do much better.
Somebody coming from chick-lit might be amazed that a woman could take on the voice of the male narrator in all his male adventures, but for this man it didn't ring quite true. Still it never distracted me from the two threads of the story while my imagination was fed with details of travelling circus life.