Friday, April 1, 2011

Water For Elephants

I selected the movie tie-in version of the book for three reasons.  First, I am sure the other booknerds would have INSISTED that I read Hunger Games instead, to avoid becoming a tribute, but the impending movie (and my promise to write a review) provided a reprieve. Second, Reese Witherspoon (my favorite actress) is playing the star circus performer Marlena.  Third, and CERTAINLY not least, Rob Pattinson is playing Jacob Jankowski.  These three facts had me racing to obtain a copy of this book.

Jacob, who is in his 90s and residing in a nursing home, narrates the story.  Throughout the book he has a series of flashbacks that tell the story of his life during the 1930’s depression-era.  We first learn that he was orphaned during his final quarter of veterinary school.  He was about to take his final exam when he discovers that he no longer has a family, house, or career to come home to.  He decides to hop a train to establish a new life for himself.  The train, unbeknownst to him, belongs to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.  He meets August Rosenbluth, who is Marlena’s husband, equestrian director, and manager of the menagerie.  August offers him a job as the show's veterinarian, but Jacob quickly learns that the show is far from spectacular.  The animals are underfed, mistreated, and the employees are considered to be dispensable.  The circus is struggling financially, but Uncle Al (the ringmaster) spends all of their money to acquire an elephant named Rosie.  He believes the elephant will become the star attraction that will save their show. As it turns out, she drinks all of their lemonade and can't follow a single command.

Sarah Gruen does an excellent job of describing the grueling behind the scenes details of life on the road with a circus.  From the performers to the laborers to the freaks of nature acquired to help draw in a crowd, I could easily visualize the characters.  It did not take long to discover that Jacob and Marlena are perhaps the only characters with any morals.  Through their kindness to Rosie they begin to establish a bond with her and each other.   

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and can not wait to see it brought to life on the big screen.       


1 comment :

  1. ADORED this book. If there was ever an animal in a story who completely won me over and made me laugh and cry in every scene, it was Rosie the elephant. I can't wait to see the movie. I think it was perfectly cast, ESPECIALLY Christoph Waltz as August.