KP Book Review: A Peep Behind the Scenes

Many today are unfamiliar with both Mrs. O. F. Walton and her work A Peep Behind the Scenes, which was originally published in 1877. Although it may not be considered a literary classic nowadays, it still is a remarkable story. By the end of the 1800s, A Peep Behind the Scenes outsold Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter by two million copies.A_Peep_Behind_the_Scenes

Walton’s story takes you “behind the scenes” of what seems to be the glittering life of the traveling carnival. The story focuses on a little girl named Rosalie. While she struggles with the life of the fair, dealing with her harsh father, and trying to care for her sick mother, Rosalie’s story is not unlike a typical Charles Dickens novel. However, A Peep Behind the Scenes contains a sweetness not commonly found in Dickens’ novels. When a gentleman visiting the carnival gives little Rosalie a picture depicting a lost sheep, the child learns of The Good Shepherd and that she is like that lost lamb needing a Savior.

As Rosalie’s story continues, she meets a host of memorable characters, including the kind and noble-hearted Toby, the spunky but lonely Betsey Ann, and the marvelous Mother Manikin. Walton’s writing style alone is enough to make this a great read, but it is the characters who captivate you.

Though written for children, teens and adults alike can enjoy A Peep Behind the Scenes and learn from the story of Rosalie. Though written in the late 1800s, Walton’s story remains applicable to today’s readers. The story shows sadness and hurting hearts hidden behind the glimmering curtain of show business. “[Rosalie] had learned that aching hearts are often hidden behind the world’s smiling faces. She had learned that there is no real, no true, no lasting joy in anything of this world.” (Page 255) Without the Good Shepherd leading us, nothing can provide the joy and love our hearts yearn for.

A Peep Behind the Scenes teaches and encourages readers. If you are the sort of person who tends to cry at books and movies, I do not doubt that this story will evoke a tear or two. Filled with bittersweet moments and thoughtful dialogue and written with a childlike simplicity, it is a shame that A Peep Behind the Scenes was never placed on the list of literary classics. However, I am sure Mrs. O. F. Walton would be pleased to know that her story is still impacting lives today as each reader falls in love with little Rosalie in A Peep Behind the Scenes.

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Christine Eaton is a student at Providence Christian College who loves stories and hopes to publish children’s books. Wearing flip-flops in December, frequenting the beach, and taking every opportunity to visit Disneyland, Christine relishes living in sunny Southern California. She can usually be found happily sipping tea, memorizing lines from the latest play she is a part of, caving into her addiction to chocolate, writing encouraging snail mail, or listening to music, which is usually something folky like Andrew Peterson or the Gray Havens, or some Broadway musical (and rarely anything landing between those two categories.) Art is one of her largest passions, and her walls are covered in her sketches and paintings. Christine yearns to use her skills to glorify God by illustrating and writing her own children’s books that will teach children more about Jesus. Some of her favorite authors include A.S. Peterson, Francine Rivers, Louisa May Alcott, and Andrew Peterson. She is so thankful for the opportunity to manage Kingdom Pen’s social media accounts and help out around the Kingdom wherever she can. From the encouragement, enthusiastic young Christian writers, and her fellow staff members, KP holds a huge place in her heart and she is excited about encouraging young writers to write well and glorify God through their writing.
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  1. Ooh, I listened to an audiodrama of this one! I liked it okay; a bit slow in places and Rosalie seemed a little flat, but maybe I should read the book. Excellent review Christi— thanks! 🙂

  2. *Waits to hear the crash of Sarah’s stack of books toppling over (which will undoubtedly also scatter confetti everywhere)* 😛

  3. I love this book! Thank you for reviewing it!

  4. Becky Chambers says:

    Wonderful review!! This book sounds so interesting. I really want to read it!…we both know that means the tears will be extracted XD Great job girl!

  5. I love “A Peep Behind the Scenes.” My mom read it aloud to our family several years ago–such a gem with simple yet rich truth. I enjoyed your review. 😀

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