Saturday, June 18, 2011

Water for Elephants- Book Review

You have probably seen advertisements for the movie Water for Elephants. It has received a lot of hype recently because it stars Robert Pattinson, but before it was a movie it was a book by Sarah Gruen. A book about love, retirement homes, but most of all the circus. 

This book tends to polarize people, they either loved it or they hated it. Which was I? Both, kind of. I loved parts and hated parts. In the beginning you meet Jacob, now an old man living in a retirement home, who is watching the tents of a circus go up across the street. These events lead him to reminiscing about his days on the circus. He goes back to the beginning of his story, finishing up his studies at Cornell Veterinary School, right in the middle of the Great Depression. Just as he starts his final exams, he is told there was a car accident and both of his parents are dead. Because his parents remortgaged their home to pay his tuition and his dad's practice of helping people out during the depression by letting them pay in chickens and produce instead of cash, Jacob is left penniless. In his distress he starts walking the railroad tracks and eventually jumps on a train which turns out to hold the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. 

Jacob eventually becomes the vet for the circus and is introduced to the show's elephant, Rosie, with whom he falls in love. He is also introduced to the volatile and possibly mentally ill head animal trainer, whose wife Marlena he also falls in love with.

Here is what I loved:
I loved the setting, the Great Depression was perfect for this kind of book. I love the circus. I have actually never been to a circus and this book painted those pictures beautifully for me. I love seeing the circus from all different angles, seeing how the performers versus the grunt workers lived. 

Here is what I didn't love: 
I don't know that I could recommend this book to very many people. My mother would be appalled by it and on some pages I was too. There is a LOT of language in this book and there is at least a moderate amount of sex. I couldn't hand this book to any of my friends and not worry about what they would think of me for reading it, so even though I did like this book, I have only recommended it to one person. 

Still, I liked this book. It was a fun, entertaining, easy read, but I didn't love this book because I felt like the excessive profanity and the sex scenes took away from what a beautiful story it could have been.

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