Book Review – Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Title: Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Format: Hardback
Written: 2006
Published: 2006

I have just finished reading Water for Elephants and instead of waiting a bit of time between reading the book and writing the review I’m not. I wanted to sit down and capture my feelings for this book immediately. Water for Elephants as described by another reviewer is a world that just pulls you in and makes you not want to set the book down, and this is very true. I will admit that the book is not what I expected based upon the title and the posters for the movie that has been made based on this book but it doesn’t make it any less fantastic, and I am so glad I picked it up from the library to read it in celebration of National Novel Writing Month.

The story starts off focused on the main character of Jacob who is also the narrator of the story. He is ninety, or ninety three and living in a nursing home. Throughout the book you go back and forth between his time and struggles in the nursing home as he faces the issues that come with old age and his life when he was twenty three. You start off with him in school learning to become a vet to his life falling apart around him and him joining the circus. The world of the circus is so wonderfully and perfectly crafted you really feel you are there for the glory and terror that it is. Each character is strong and vibrant and you find yourself desperate to know what will become of Jacob both when he is twenty three and when he is ninety three.

Based on the title of the book one would think that the story is all about elephants and then combined with the movie posters one would think it is also nothing but a torrid love affair, but the story is so much more than that. The elephant Rosie doesn’t make an appearance until about half way through the book and the love affair doesn’t come to truly be until the last forth of the book the sexual tension and desire is there from early on but the book doesn’t focus on it, it is more a driving plot point as the story to me speaks more of Jacob working to survive in this circus during the Great Depression, and keep those he cares about safe as well, which includes the animals.

As I type up this review I honestly feel that my words are not adequate to truly express the wonders of this fantastic story that I have had trouble putting down when real life such as work called me away. Because of this I truly feel that I can recommend this book and give it a four page review. I keep it at for pages solely because there are those who would not appreciate the sexual intonations that do happen to appear in the book, though they are handled rather well rather than being a matter of crass imagery, and for the darkness that one finds in the book, it adds a whole level to the story and it would be lost without that dark gritty realism that is infused into the story, making it such a wonderful read.

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