|Amazon Price||New from||Used from|
Water for Elephants is the story of Jacob's life with this circus. Sara Gruen spares no detail in chronicling the squalid, filthy, brutish circumstances in which he finds himself. The animals are mangy, underfed or fed rotten food, and abused. Jacob, once it becomes known that he has veterinary skills, is put in charge of the "menagerie" and all its ills. Uncle Al, the circus impresario, is a self-serving, venal creep who slaps people around because he can. August, the animal trainer, is a certified paranoid schizophrenic whose occasional flights into madness and brutality often have Jacob as their object. Jacob is the only person in the book who has a handle on a moral compass and as his reward he spends most of the novel beaten, broken, concussed, bleeding, swollen and hungover. He is the self-appointed Protector of the Downtrodden, and... he falls in love with Marlena, crazy August's wife. Not his best idea.
The most interesting aspect of the book is all the circus lore that Gruen has so carefully researched. She has all the right vocabulary: grifters, roustabouts, workers, cooch tent, rubes, First of May, what the band plays when there's trouble, Jamaican ginger paralysis, life on a circus train, set-up and take-down, being run out of town by the "revenooers" or the cops, and losing all your hooch. There is one glorious passage about Marlena and Rosie, the bull elephant, that truly evokes the magic a circus can create. It is easy to see Marlena's and Rosie's pink sequins under the Big Top and to imagine their perfect choreography as they perform unbelievable stunts. The crowd loves it--and so will the reader. The ending is absolutely ludicrous and really quite lovely. --Valerie Ryan
Awesome book. Love the past and present mingling. I am involved with the elderly and loved the present day part, too.Published 3 hours ago by Barbara Barrett
"The mind is a diary of memories". This is a story of an old man who recalls from such a diary his hectic life in a circus. Read morePublished 5 hours ago by helen yanuszka
An intriguingly wonderful history lesson that allows us a look at the history makers' heart! We all have feelings; we all need to express them. Thank you Mrs. Gruen.Published 10 hours ago by csy
A slow read at first but well worth staying with it. Even though a novel, the research the author put into her writing, certainly describes the circus life. Read morePublished 10 hours ago by D. Harvill
and what a wonderful mistake it was. I didn't know what to expect from the book and I never saw the movie they made, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the book and how it made me... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Scott Armon