Friday, May 6, 2011

Review- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants @ Goodreads
 Water for Elephants 
By: Sara Gruen 
     Published: March 1st, 2011(First published April 9th, 2006)
Publisher: Algonquin Books

"Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out - orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive 'ship of fools'. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act - in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.
" Synopsis from Goodreads

Lets cover talk!
Water for Elephants has been published in many countries and like most books that have been re-published it's had many covers. I, being the curious person that I am, looked for the other covers to see which one looks more appealing to me. I found many but four of them really stood out and so I think they should be mentioned.  One of them is of course the original book cover, I love that it shows the circus tarp, and that it doesn't show the mans face and so we have the liberty to imagine how he looks. At the same time I wish Rosie was visible since she is important maybe an elephant trunk and some sequins showing as the man enters the tent? Then again maybe not. I know some people don't care what cover is being used and part of me feels like that after all what I care for the most is the story but, at the same time if a cover doesn't catch my attention it could take forever for me to pick it up, if I even do. 
The next cover isn't my favorite it looks a little bit like a political poster not really like a book cover. The middle cover seems sort of creepy to me not sure if it's the girl or if it's the color and the last cover looks nice but it doesn't exactly look like it has to do with the circus I got more of a flapper era feel from it. The book cover I'm really loving though is the one I bought which is the one for the movie. No, not because of Robert Pattinson even if I do like him. It has to do more with what the cover has, for example it shows a very pretty lady ( Reese Witherspoon) in an amorous position with a man, an Elephant that looks very circus themed (not over the top costume but a nice one nonetheless), railroad train where a lot of the story happens, and angry looking man.  For me this cover win hands down on the perfect book cover edition competition (if such a competition existed lol)

My Opinion Ooer!
I first heard about Water for Elephants after I saw the movie preview when I heard it was based on the book written by Sara Gruen. I knew there would be some sort of romance in it and that the story was set in a circus but apart form that I wasn't sure what to expect. I was surprised by the beginning of the story and doubtful if I would like it because of it but as I continued reading I found myself enjoying every page.

Water for Elephants cast Hal Holbrook (old Jacob), Rob Pat(young Jacob), Reese W(Marlena) and Sara Gruen
I loved how the story is told from the point of view of 9o (or 93) year old Jacob Jankowski it was quite refreshing in many ways. His thoughts were a mixture of wistfulness, knowledge, and grumpy old man.  The story it self is set in the late 1920's and early 30's at least the story of Jacob at a young age about 70 years have passed since then. 23 year old Jacob has just lost his parents in a tragic accident and with them all he had. In a desperate move to get away he jumps into a moving train and so begins the story. 

The Main Characters in Water for Elephants were of course Jacob (older and younger versions), Marlena, and Rosie. Out of all of them I really liked that older Jacob I thought he was funny and accepting in ways that I'm not sure I could possibly be. He was also very old and grumpy at times and I hated to see him in pain I wished the people around him had understood him more. It was in a way like looking through a glass mirror and finding how possible a future like his could be. He had gotten hurt and his family decide that it's better if hes put in a nursing home. I think the reason I really enjoyed reading this book is because of him. At the end he was the character stuck in my head, sure I liked the others but it wasn't the same he was just brilliant and funny. 
A poster announcing the circus like in the old days lol

I liked the story of Jacob and the circus but I felt some what dissatisfied with how much the other characters are explored.  Marlena seemed a nice enough lady who had spontaneous moments at times but I was confused by her at times. I wish we could have learned more about her but, since the story is told from Jacobs point of view I could understand why her thoughts weren't really put out there. Although the story centers around those three characters I felt the time they actually spend together isn't really that big. In fact I feel like Rosie, the elephant, spent more time with August, Marlena's husband, that with Jacob not always just a lot of time. A bond does develop between Jacob, Marlena, and Rosie but it's not as explored as I wish it had been.

The story itself was really enjoyable the ending even more so. If there were a few things that I wish had been changed or better explained it didn't deter my liking it. Over all I think this book is definitely worth reading the ending is, I think, one of the best. It's been on my mind all week I can't give it a perfect mark because of those few things that were left unanswered for me simple things really but unanswered nonetheless. Even if the story doesn't need the information its some thing I feel should have been talked about a little bit near the end  but it's not. I felt like a sequel is needed after that amazing ending but at the same time I love where it ends and. At the end of the day I feel Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen deserves a 5 out of 5 but know a 4 out of 5 aka a Major Crush Alert!! rating is still pretty awesome. 

Check out Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and then stop by again tell me your thoughts on it maybe I missed some thing you didn't or if you've already read it tell me your thoughts. Of curse if you've seen the movie tell me your thoughts on that as well I hope to see it soon and maybe I'll talk about it in another blog post but for now this is it. Hope you  all have a nice day

                       as always , Carol

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