Book Review: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

This has been one of those big "buzz books", where everyone who reads it recommends it to another, then another, then another. When I was told by everyone (including trusty read-alike friend Nat) that I should read this, I grudgingly accepted it.

I mean...a novel about a circus? During the Great Depression?

And yet, from the very first page, I was engrossed, and found myself flying through the pages. Jacob is 90 (or 93), and the novel switches from present day to his recollections of working in a traveling train filled with circus animals, performers, bad men, beautiful women, drama and a very cunning elephant.

I can't describe this novel and do it any sort of justice, except to say that I was completely surprised and completely taken by this novel. What an amazing piece of fiction - highly recommended!


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say that I disagree with you. I also begrudgingly read it for a book club and found it boring, filled with tedious detail, and I garnered no sympathy for the characters. There have been many on the book club circuit where I have come around to the story or the character but this is not one of them., perhaps because I dislike the circus as a whole? Algonguin's books are almost always worth reading but I'd put in two thumbs up for "Ursula, Under" by Ingrid Hill rather than this selection.

Marissa said...

I hear what you're saying...I really resisted reading it, since I'm not a "circus girl" myself, but somehow I got swept up in the characters, and found myself rooting for Rosie. I was pleasantly surprised, but I know it's not for everyone. :-)

Anonymous said...

Some in my book club objected to the graphic scenes included in the book and some of the language. (Need I mention this was a church book club?) Personally, I loved the book and had to go back and reread it to find the so-called objectionable parts. I particularly like the old man and the way Sara Gruen treated the older characters. I also liked the way the author worked out the huge predicament that Jacob and Marlena were in after the stampede. How wonderful that they could take all those animals with them! I guess I didn't consider this a "circus" book--it was just a good background for the plot.