Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

21st Jan 2011 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2011, Reviews, Reviews by Jess

Review: Water for Elephants by Sara GruenWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Published by Algonquin Books
Pub Date: March 1st 2011
Pages: 350
Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie.

 

It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

The book begins with ninety year old Jacob remembering a very intense and disturbing event from his time with the circus that will leave you wanting to find out how it got to that point. The chapters then alternate between old Jacob and his very depressed state at the Assisted Living Facility and him remembering his journey with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

The circumstances on how he came to join the circus as the show Veterinarian were very sad. He went from being a young man about to graduate from Cornell, his whole future ahead of him and the possibility of FINALLY losing his virginity, to having no one and nowhere to go. Once on the show, he meets August, the show’s equestrian director and superintendent of animals. August is one very questionable character. He can be the most charming man around and moments later he can turn into the most terrifying creature you’ve ever encountered.

He also meets Marlena, August’s wife, and falls in love with her on the spot. At a later point, the show acquires an elephant named Rosie who is thought to be stupid because she won’t learn to do anything the trainers try to make her do. Rosie plays a huge part in this story, and she gave me the biggest surprise in this book. This story also takes you on an eye opening journey through the sad conditions circus employees and animals were under in 1931.

Water for Elephants was a completely different read for me. It was Adult, and it was realistic, and I loved it. I was a little skeptical about the circus theme. Can’t say I’ve ever been curious enough about its workings to read a book revolving around one, but I am so glad I did because it was sooo much more than that! It made me laugh, cry and gasp in astonishment sometimes. It was a huge plus knowing this will be a movie (coming out in April) starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon as the main characters. I just pictured both of them the whole time! :D

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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