Book Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Cover of
Harper Collins. Purchased at Chapters Indigo

I’ve been meaning to read Water for Elephants for a while and I finally picked up the book when I realized it was to be made into a movie. I read it in one sitting and loved it! In the story, Jacob Jankowski is a lively, cantankerous, ninety-something year old living in a nursing home. A circus setting-up across the street from the home triggers his memory and he begins to remember the months he spent travelling with a circus after the sudden death of his parents. At the circus, he meets and falls in love with Marlena who is married to the charismatic, unpredictable and vindictive animal trainer August.

Water for Elephants is a wonderful love story with an eclectic complement of characters set to the chaotic but still hierarchical life of a travelling circus. An enjoyable read that deals with the desperation and poor working conditions of the depression era as well as the issue of animal cruelty. The book effectively gives us a glimpse of the crude reality under the big top of the greatest show on earth. A fun read I really hope the movie does the book justice.

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