Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2007
331 pages
Fiction; Historical
3.5/5 stars

Source: My mom has been trying to get me to read this book for years and I finally broke down and read it after one of my IRL friends recommended it.

The book is split between Jacob Jankowski's life as a ninety or ninety-three year old man and his reminisces about his life as a twenty-three year old traveling with a circus during the Great Depression.  He falls in love, sees an entirely different kind of life, and survives.

I was most impressed by the circus anecdotes, most of which are revealed to have been true by Gruen in the author's note.  The animals and other performers were very interesting.  Jacob, for me, was very boring with little about him that surprised me.  Marlena didn't have much of a personality.  She was just pretty with grace and a love of horses.

Overall, I was left with a feeling of "so what?"  I can see why my mom liked this; it's just the kind of book she would like and if I had read it first, I would totally have recommended it to her.  But I didn't love it as so many seemed to have and like I wanted to love it.

This has been made into a movie; I'm not sold on Robert Pattinson as Jacob (a redheaded Pole) but I'm okay with Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon as the brunette Marlena and very intrigued by Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz as her violent husband August.  I don't know if I'll see the film in theaters but I know my mom will and she'll tell me about it.


  1. Always good to get another perspective.

  2. I am on the fence about this book. It just does not seem to appeal to me. I may borrow it from the library and try to read it someday.

  3. It seems the book is nothing special, but it also seems that the setting - the circus - is its driving force. I think I might read this for the intriguing setting. I'll probably even see the movie at one point.

  4. Wasn't sure I was excited about reading a book about the circus, but this was a great story with an easy storyline to follow. My book club enjoyed it!
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