Thursday, January 24, 2008

Water for Elephants

I recently finished reading Water for Elephants, a novel by Sara Gruen, which I eagerly tore through in a few short days. While it’s definitely a quick read—the perfect summer beach fling—the plot and storyline are expertly researched and crafted. The novel weaves back and forth between the present and past—Jacob now, a 93-year old nursing home dweller with undying determination and spunk. And Jacob then, an Ivy League-educated, soon-to-be graduate, who is forced into an unexpected, and ultimately lifelong journey, of life on the road as a circus veterinarian for a shady circus outfit during the 1930’s depression era.

One of the most fascinating parts of the book was reading the “Author’s Notes,” which comprised the last few pages. In these, Gruen details how she initially came to be fascinated with the concept of old-time circus life, her research for the book, and some of the “real life” circus stories that she expertly incorporated into the novel. Fittingly, each of the book’s 24 chapters begins with a vintage circus photograph, which together provide a colorful tapestry of the emotions, fashions, settings, personalities, and day-to-day activities of a circus troupe in the early 1900’s.

And per usual, I will end with my favorite line from the book. It is as follows: Lucinda’s death leaves us with a serious deficiency in the freak lineup. And it must be filled—all the big shows have fat ladies, and therefore so must we” (pg. 205).


Jackie said...

I'm glad that you finished the book and enjoyed it. Now can I have my book back?

Jackie said...

How was your potluck event at the bookstore? You forgot to blog about that.

kristinleigh said...

It was fun...and the author even brought samples! Which always wins me over. But I was a little disturbed that she included several recipes that she had never how can you make a recipe compilation if you/or someone you know didn't actually try the recipes! Needless to say, I won't be buying "Potluck!" But it was an interesting and enjoyable book event.