After my previous post with a picture of a lady and a very relaxed leopard, here's one of a gal and her tiger in a rather more playful pose. The game girl is Mabel Stark, one of the most celebrated big cat trainers from the golden age of the American circus in the 1920s. Wrestling with her favourite kitty, Rajah, was all part of her act, hence her tough leather suit. Mabel and Rajah got on so well that he used to share her bed on the Ringling Brothers circus train, although there were several ocassions when life in the big cat cage got out of hand and she was badly mauled by less house-trained lions and tigers, both in training sessions and in front of the public. Her life is told in fictional form in Robert Hough's novel The Final Confession of Mabel Stark. It's a rollicking read, similar in many ways to Water For Elephants but far, far better in it's depiction of blood, guts and sawdust and its evocation of Stark's spunky, spiky voice. Click over to the Circus Mania blog to read my review of The Final Confession of Mabel Stark among my pick of 5 Great Circus Books for Summer Reading.