Friday, November 19, 2010

Fiction Friday - WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen

All right, if you know me you have probably heard me rant incessantly about how awesome this book is but I just can't stop!

Released in 2006, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS has been my go to book suggestion for years. I have bought it for Christmas presents, birthday presents and randomly given it away to people who need a taste of good storytelling.

Gruen has created some of the most compelling characters in modern literature, Jacob the veterinary student turned circus vet, Marlena the beautiful performer caught in an abusive marriage with the explosive equestrian director, August and most of all Rosie, the charming elephant that ties these characters together.

Jacob Jankowski was an ivy league student until his parents death, just ten days before graduation. Left with nothing but an overwhelming sense of loss, Jacob wanders away from the life he had and unknowingly into the centre of the tumultuous Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. There he meets a wild array of characters including Kinko the dwarf clown, Camel the alcoholic roustabout, Barbara the cooch girl and of course Marlena and August.

When the circus acquires Rosie, the elephant whose only apparent trick is drinking gin and eating copious amounts of watermelon, Jacob gets pulled further into the complicated life that surrounds his new found family of ragtag performers and working men. His disdain for August's cruelty and his growing love for Marlena forces Jacob into keeping a secret that impacts the rest of his life.

As the 90 or 93 year old Jacob narrates the story of his experience aboard the circus train the reader is guided through the wonderful and strange world of this Depression-era circus. We are treated to vivid descriptions of the life and habits of the circus in a way that adds to the flavour and pace of the story. Every paragraph and page leaves the reader hungry for more. Each scene is laid out perfectly, with the right balance of character, action and description.

Pick up WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, read it and let it become one of your favourites too!

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS the movie, featuring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon and Christof Waltz, is due to be released in Spring of 2011.

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