The Electric Michelangelo
Author: Sarah Hall
The Electric Michelangelo is practically begging for a movie adaptation—if novels could actually plead. Taking place between 1910 and 1940, Sarah Hall's delicate coming-of-age saga follows a tattoo artist learning about culture and life from a variety of circus performers and "freaks," before falling in love with a particularly tough woman who allows him to sketch over 100 pieces of ink on her physique.
So, basically, you'd have a romantic epic akin to Water for Elephants, but, hopefully, minus Robert Pattinson.
Fun Fact: When The Electric Michelangelo, her second novel, was published, Sarah Hall was only 30 years old.