Friday, April 25, 2008

Books: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants
By Sara Gruen
Copyright 2006
350 pages

This is one of the better books I have read recently. This story takes on aging, the circus, love, man v. man, man v. animals, man v. self.

It is an epic story. Ninety-three year old Jacob sees a circus setting up across the street from his nursing home and he begins to remember the 1930s and the time he joined the circus.

He falls in love, falls in hate and eventually finds himself in this simply wonderful book. Marlena is the object of his desire, but she is married to August. August becomes Jacob's boss when the young man joins the circus to escape the pain of his parents' unexpected death in a car wreck.

Fortunately for Jacob, he was one test away from becoming a veterinarian, so he is immediately useful to the traveling carnival.

The circus is described as dog-eat-dog but the author so skillfully weaves in the details that you never notice you're getting a history lesson as you read.

I don't want to give away any more of the plot, so I will simply urge you to read this book.

5 stars (which is as high as I go)


  1. I agree with your rating. This is an excellent book...a good read.

  2. Now you've inspired me to finish it! I bought a copy, started it, liked it, and then my copy was somehow sucked into one of the piles of books I really have to finish.

    I loved Gruen's other two books, Riding Lessons and Flying Changes. She got the horse stuff right!

    I enjoy reading books by authors who get their details right. Nice way to learn history!

  3. It's a great book! Can't say enough about it.

  4. It's a terrific book and nostalgic of those simpler - but not simpler times. I felt nostalgia for a time and a place I had never experienced.

    Becky - you will like the animals in it too. Put it at the top of your "must finish" pile!

  5. We have a road in Floyd called "elephant curve" from when the circus was in town and an accident happened on that road causing the elephants to get loose.

    Not getting much reading done these days. No paper cuts, just dirt from the garden.

  6. I thought it was a beautiful love story. We read it in our book club and everyone enjoyed it. The writing was skillful--I like the whole flashback structure.


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