Friday Favorites: Water for Elephants

Friday, March 12, 2010

I read Water for Elephants a few years ago. At the time I hadn't heard anything about the book or author and went into it with no expectations. The story takes place in two time periods, present day and 1931 depression-era. It's told from Jacob Jankowski's point-of-view, as a 20-something and then as a 90-something.

The premise is, Jacob joins the circus (back when people still did that) and meets the beautiful Marlena, her husband August, a cruel animal trainer, and the gentle Rosie, an elephant.

The author, Sara Gruen did an excellent job researching circuses for the book. She even includes real pictures from circuses. The story flows back and forth between the two time periods without ever losing it's pace.

The story is simply captivating. I was completely carried away by the circus stories, while at the same time the book was grounded by Jacob's experiences as an elderly person. He lives in a retirement home and he feels like he has lost everything he loved. It made me think about how our culture treats our elderly and the lack of dignity we leave them with.

It's not a perfect book, but it's a story that has stayed with me. I just found out that they are in the midst of casting the film version. It will star Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and recent Oscar winner, Chistoph Waltz (who is so good in Inglorious Bastards.) I'm not thrilled with the casting, (Pattinson, really?) so I want to tell anyone who hasn't read this book to pick it up before the film comes out. I promise it will be much better in your imagination than on the big screen.


Captain Nick Sparrow said...

I want the movie to be good so badly! I love that book!

Belle Wong said...

This sounds like an interesting read. I like the way the storyline goes back and forth between the two time periods. I'll have to check to see if my library carries this one!

Jeanne said...

I love this book too, and second your advice about reading it before the movie comes out. But I'm excited to hear about the movie.