Water for Elephants

People have been recommending this book to me for ages. But I thought I wouldn’t like it because I hate circuses. But I decided to give it a go, and what do you know… Water for Elephants  by Sara Gruen (published by HarperCollins) is a fantastic book. Mea Culpa! I never once wanted to put it down without finishing it. (And I seem to do that alot these days, give up on a book before I’m finished.) Jacob Jankowski is a veterinary student at Cornell University who is forced to give up his dream of working with his father when his parents are killed in an accident and he has to quit medical school. This is the depression era and Jacob discovers that his parents put all their money into sending him to school so there’s no money left for anything, even the house he lived in is now owned by the bank. He walks away from the life he knows and ends up hitching a ride on a circus train where he manages to prove himself as a Vet, becoming an integral part of this rag-tag bunch of misfits. It’s a rough, dirty life and there’s no end of infighting and hatred among the workers and the performers as they move from town to town trying to make a buck and stay employed so they can have 3 meals a day. And Jacob will do anything for his 2 loves – Rosie the elephant and Marlena the star of the show’s equestrian act. Part of the story is told by Jacob when he’s 90 or 93 (he’s not exactly sure how old he is) and it confined to a wheel chair in a nursing home. When he learns that the circus is going to perform just down the street from the home, memories of travelling with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth surface and he’s determined to get to the show to relive a few precious moments of his past. Gruen has written a really great book, and hey – she went to university in Ottawa. How about that. And they’ve made a movie out of the book for those of you who are interested. Will I go see it – no way. I hate movies based on books almost as much as I hate circuses.

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