Title: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Media Source: Paperback
Rating 4 out of 5 stars
Recommendation: I highly recommend reading the novel rather than watching the movie. This novel is captivating and full of action.
Jacob Jankowski is a 93 (or 90 he can't remember which) old man content with his life in the nursing home in which he lives. Memories of his past have been shoved back into the recesses of his mind. That is until one day a circus begins setting up in the lot across the road. He begins to remember the events that led up to him climbing aboard a passing train only to realize the train housed the Benzini Brother's Most Spectacular Show on Earth. He finds himself the veterinarian for the show as well as learning what it truly means to work in the world of circus performers. A world that is both salvation on hell on earth. The show takes on a elephant who cannot perform and steals lemonade. Marlena (the star of the equestrian act), Augustus (director of the animals) and Jacob must come up with an act for Rosie to perform with Marlena.
I devoured this book in one day, that is how spectacular it is. I could not put it down. The is so well crafted that the reader can picture everything happening before their eyes. I particularly enjoyed having the story flawlessly going back and forth between present day and his memories. It added a certain quality to the book and kept as a reminder that he tried so hard to forget everything that happened. Gruen weaves a tale of intrigue, love, humor and distress. She creates characters that remain with the readers long after they finish reading the novel. Jacob is the most loveable character as well as Rosie. One couldn't help but laugh when readers find out that Rosie stole lemonade. When Walter looses his dog Queenie, your heart breaks for him and rejoices when she is returned to him.
The story depicts the bond and love between animal and human as well as hatred that can form when the animal is not treated properly. The novel also depicts the social hierarchy of circus performers and circus workers. This is one of those novels that can be read time and time again and still be entertaining. There was a movie made based off the novel, and honestly the novel is far better than the movie.