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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
Very well written, interesting characters, and wonderful story line.
When you are finished, you will wish the story never ended; but it will have left you with the feeling of knowing you have just read a truely great book.
This is a beautifully written book full of well developed characters and a wonderful story.
The book was amazing. The sender however lied about it being a signed copy and then continued to explain to me how they never had a signed copy and they were ok with that.Published 6 hours ago by Zachary Nussbaum
Way too many unneccessary, graphic, sleezy sex scenes. It's almost as if the author had to add this trash to get it to sell. Read morePublished 10 hours ago by mkb
Liked reading about the circus and the setting. Had to skip over a few parts that I felt were crass and unnecessary. Very good writing though.Published 11 hours ago by David Grimm
On Partners, the stars should all lit up. just like it did for this wonderful book.Published 1 day ago by Rosalind Poirrier
Jacob lived such a dramatic life! It is amazing that he survived at all. At least he got the girl and was able to enjoy his life with her!Published 1 day ago by ItsWindy
The perfect blend of fiction and history. Excellent imagery, biblical references, and an inspiring ending. Leaves you wanting more when finished.Published 2 days ago by Susan Wright
I love books and hate movies, so movies adapted from books make me weary of them...I have this one a shot and was pleasantly surprised. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Kristen O'Keefe