Saturday, February 5, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

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.

My thoughts:
For some reason I put off reading this book. Honestly I decided to read it since the movie is coming out soon and I was curious about it but I am sorry that I waited. I loved it! Each time I picked it up to read I didn't want to put it down! Jacob's story goes back and forth from his present as a man who can't quite remember his exact age to his past as a young man who has almost finished veterinary school and ends up working as a circus vet. His dreams and reminisces are of those times when he was working with the show. It was almost as disappointing to me as a reader as it was for Jacob the character to awake from one of these dreams or daydreams. For Jacob it was disappointing because he finds himself old and wonders if he is starting to lose his mind, but for me I really wanted to find out more about Rosie the elephant, or Marlene and her horses, Walter and his dog or the other tensions and issues involved with a circus moving around the country by train.
I hate spoilers, so I won't say why, but I loved the ending. I really felt it worked for the book. There were a few ways I thought it might go as the pages I had left to read kept getting smaller and smaller and I as quite satisfied with the ending Gruen crafted for her tail. Now that I've read it I don't know if I want to see the film because movies are never quite as good as the book and changes from the book take away something from the final product for me. I like to have a bit of time pass before seeing a movie of a book I've read so it all isn't too fresh in my mind.

Product Details
Pub. Date: May 2007
Format: Paperback , 350pp
ISBN-13: 9781565125605
ISBN: 1565125606


  1. I tried it once, it made me weep so I put it down and promised to try it again soon. I better get to it before the movie comes out too. Great review!

  2. I loved this book. And I read it for not one, but both of the book clubs that I am in. Thinking I should read it again before the movie comes out.