Monday, April 18, 2011

Review - Water for Elephants

Water For Elephants
By Sara Gruen
Amazon Paperback - $4.39
Amazon Kindle - $4.17
Barnes & Noble Paperback - $4.43
Nook - $6.39

With its spotlight on elephants, Gruen's romantic page-turner hinges on the human-animal bonds that drove her debut and its sequel (Riding Lessons and Flying Changes)—but without the mass appeal that horses hold. The novel, told in flashback by nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. When 23-year-old Jankowski learns that his parents have been killed in a car crash, leaving him penniless, he drops out of Cornell veterinary school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus, where he cares for a menagerie of exotic creatures[...] He also falls in love with Marlena, one of the show's star performers—a romance complicated by Marlena's husband, the unbalanced, sadistic circus boss who beats both his wife and the animals Jankowski cares for. Despite her often clich├ęd prose and the predictability of the story's ending, Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book. (May 26)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This book kept popping up on suggestions for me, but I wasn't willing to pay that much for a book I didn't know much about. Lucky for me my digital library had it and I finally was able to read it. And it suprised me, as I thought it was some chick lit book about a little girl or something.

No it's about Jacob Jankowski who is now in his 90s, but keeps jumping back to his early 20s when his parents died just as he was finishing Veterinarian school. He had planned to return home and work with his parents but, as happened during the great depression, his father hadn't been making any money in the practice and had taken out a loan on the house and business to pay for Jacob's education.

In his grief he runs off and ends up working for the Benzini Brothers - run by Uncle Al. Jacob fell in love with Marlena, who did an act with some gorgeous horses. She was unfortuantely married to Arthur, who was a paranoid schizophrenic. He finally goes nuts and accuses them of having an affair and beats them both...THEN the affair does begin.

It is a story about a love affair, the circus (behind the scenes), the Great Depression, and finally it is also about growing old in our society. Poor Jacob has seen so much, done so much but his family and the nurses treat him like a burden with nothing left to contribute. That was eye we really treat our elderly like that? Yes, unfortunately we do. We have lost that respect, that reverence that people used to have for the people that were before, that knew more.

And introducing my new star system. 1 star=hated it! 2 star=not a good time. 3 star=it was ok. 4 star=I enjoyed it. 5 star=I loved this book and now that I'm done I'm ready to read it again!

I am giving this book 5 stars!


  1. By your review, it almost sounds like its along the lines of a Nicholas Sparks book, which i can see why it got 5 stars. lol I love Nicholas Spark books lol

  2. Hi - I am definitely glad to discover this. cool job!


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