Saturday, June 09, 2007


Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"W" Title & 7th on the TBR Challenge
***This novel takes place during the Great Depression and tells the tale of the train circus. Gruen did a lot of research on the subject, and that made the story very interesting. The characters are an intriguing, diversified group: Jacob, the almost veterinarian and narrator, Camel, an old alcoholic circus worker, Kinko, the dwarf and his dog, Queenie, Uncle Al, the bullying owner of the circus, Marlena, the elephant performer and Jacob's love interest, and her husband, August, who is paranoid schizophrenic. And, of course, Rosie, the elephant.
***The story is told by Jacob as he sits in his nursing home at the age of ninety or ninety-three (he can't remember which.) Maybe I am a little over-obsessed with getting old, but these are the only two quotes I marked in the book:
"Age is a terrible thief. Just when you're getting the hang of life, it knocks your legs our from under you and stoops your back. It makes you ache and muddies your head and silently spreads cancer throughout your spouse."
"There is nothing to be done about it. All I can do is put in time waiting for the inevitable, observing as the ghosts of my past rattle around my vacuous present. They crash and bang and make themselves at home, mostly because there's no competition. I've stopped fighting them. They're crashing and banging around in there now. 'Make yourselves at home, boys, Stay awhile. Oh, sorry--I see you already have.' Damn ghosts." (Yes, these quotes are a bit depresssing. The book really isn't.)
***I enjoyed this inside look at the circus world, especially with all the people there desperate to have a job which enables Uncle Al and August to get away with what they do. Gruen does a great job with the plot and the characters. The transitions from the present to the thirties and back again are well-timed and enhance the story. The final scene in the thirties is suspenseful and a surprise since the prologue deals with the same scene. Just when I thought the final chapter would be anticlimatic, Gruen throws in another twist. I found humor, drama, romance, and tragedy. Some sex and profanity, otherwise a good book.
Rating: 4.5
Posted by Framed at 8:08 PM

Joy said...
Oh, I'm so glad you liked this book! I really enjoyed it, too.
6:08 AM
Les said...
This book didn't appeal to me at all when it first came out. Reading your wonderful review has changed my mind! It sounds quite compelling (and perhaps I, too, am a bit obsessed with aging, although I'm not sure why!). Thanks!
7:31 AM
Lisa said...
This one is on my list! Thanks for whetting my appetite!!
9:26 AM
booklogged said...
I've seen both good and bad reviews on this book, but since I trust your opinion I'm going to add it to my list. You're almost finished with this a-z challenge. Good for you. Are you going to turn around and do it again?
12:55 PM
Framed said...
Booklogged - No.Joy - I added this to the list after reading a review on Lotus's blog, but I believe I read your review as well making it even more enticing.Les & Lisa - At first, I didn't think I would rate the book this high, but it grows on you. Plus, I really liked the last two chapters. Jacob is a great old man.Booklogged - Maybe next year. Too many other challenges and X is so hard to find.
4:28 PM
kookiejar said...
I really liked this one as well. The inside look at the circus, especially in that time frame was very interesting, and enjoyed the time we spent with Jacob as an old man. I'm glad you liked it.
12:12 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
Wow, Framed, the more I read your blog, the longer my TBR list gets. :)Hey, just in case you didn't see it, I tagged you on my blog. Scroll down until you see the History Tag -- I've added a few things since then.
3:43 PM
Lynne said...
This book was one of my favorite reads so far this year.
6:40 AM
Kailana said...
I read this book, wow, I guess it was earlier this year. Feels like it was a while ago! Anyways, I thought it was an enjoyable read, but the main character annoyed me to be honest...
7:09 AM
Petunia said...
Great review. I had added it to my TBR list, then removed it. Now I think I am adding it again. I'm sure I will be reading it sometime soon.
8:25 PM
Stephanie said...
I just finished reading this book and will be hosting a discussion on my online book blog at the end of May. I too enjoyed the story and was also surprised by the last couple of chapters. Thanks for sharing your opinion!

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