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April 4, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Sandra picked up Water for Elephants a month or two ago because she heard good things about it and wanted to read it before the movie comes out.  I decided to give it a try and finished over the weekend.  The story is roughly 350 pages and is a historical fiction based on a traveling circus.  From the initial description, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, but I found it to be worth the time.

The book is really a very interesting read on the history of the circus and what life was like for the workers and performers, with some personal adventure and a love story mixed in.  The story follows a man named Jacob Jankowski.  It opens to 93 year old Jacob, living in a nursing home and the storyline alternates between his present and his memories.  At the age of 23, he goes through a personal tragedy and as a result ends up as part of a railroad circus traveling the country.  Not only does he end up as a part of the circus, he become the vet responsible for all the animals, including Rosie - a bull elephant they pick up on the road.  Along the way, he becomes friends with August - the head animal trainer, and his wife Marlena - who he falls in love with, as well as many other circus workers.

As a historical fiction, Water for Elephants does a very good job at painting a picture of the circus life.  It is interesting, flows well, and does a great job of keeping your attention.  There is plenty of history, animals, fighting and scheming to go along with the love story. As a warning, there are some sexual scenes in the book that are pretty graphic.  In spite of that, I would definitely recommend it as a quick and easy read.  4/5


Sandra said...

Now we can go see the movie together when it comes out! :)