'Water For Elephants' is an ejoyable 'escape' read. The excitement and colour of the travelling circus made interesting reading, particularly as the a'Water For Elephants' is an ejoyable 'escape' read. The excitement and colour of the travelling circus made interesting reading, particularly as the author fictionalised some the 'truths' & memories she came across while researching the novel. For me, this at least makes the setting and the atmosphere believable whereas there are elements of the plotline that are a little more fanciful. I picked up this book expecting 'literary fiction' but was diappointed, I don't feel that Gruen is a very skilled writer and for that reason I've only scored this 3 stars. The prose did not flow, the dialogue was lacklustre and many of the characters were underwritten. This was, however, a good example of a mass-market throwaway read - we all need those once in a while!
Some of the writing within this novella was beautiful but there were a lot of flowery passages that I didn't feel added to the story and which resulteSome of the writing within this novella was beautiful but there were a lot of flowery passages that I didn't feel added to the story and which resulted in my mind wandering. This meant that I had to try and re-read some parts in order to pick up the story again. I would call it a pretentious writing style but that might be a little unfair as there were sentences and paragraphs that were sublimely poetic. - The plot itself was interesting and the sub themes of beauty and snobbery were well handled. I felt that the narration was biased, although it seems that this was the author's intention, deliberately caricaturing elements of Kitty (her inate snobbishness and petulant manner), Margaret (her poverty and lack of culture) and Chris (his onedimentional reaction to his amnesia). I would have preferred it if the story was told from multiple perspectives as I would particularly have liked to see things from Kitty's perspective. Overall this was a quick and lovely read but not outstanding enough for me to rate it more highly. There is a chance that I've missed part of its charm and for that reason I may read this book again in the future....more
What a fun read. Believe it or not I'm one of the few people that hadn't seen the film before reading the book. For that reason the film quite disappoWhat a fun read. Believe it or not I'm one of the few people that hadn't seen the film before reading the book. For that reason the film quite disappointed me - I love the sharp wit and tongue in cheek telling of the written story and the characterisation is understandably much more intricate within the written work. There is also a sub-text of satire on the modern capitalist driven world and in particular the publishing and film industry. Although many of the lines within the film are lifted exactly from the text the omissions and cuts are detrimental to the overall feel and tone of the film, which is one of the main drivers behind me rating the book a four star read. - The book is very entertaining. The film, unless you saw it before you read the book and love it for nostalgic reasons should be avoided. ...more
This is the first YA book I've read since being a child myself and I admit that I'd forgotten just how powerful those stories can be. This was a veryThis is the first YA book I've read since being a child myself and I admit that I'd forgotten just how powerful those stories can be. This was a very well written tale of oppression told from the point of view of a 12 year old girl. I found it to be an authentic voice and that, along with the engaging plot made this an easy read. The messages of tolerance were the most powerful images for me - it's good to step into someone else's shoes sometimes to get a broader view of the world and I can see that the target audience for this book will have their minds opened. I would have liked to have known more about life in Nigeria, the daily rhythms as well as the political situation but I liked how the author drew parallels between bullying in british schools and political repression in opressed countries. As our schools become more and more multi-cultural the younger generation is going to put us to shame in terms of their empathy and understanding of the wider world around us. This was, for me, a very enjoyable book with a solid purpose....more
This was an atmospheric tale based in historical detail and with a great evocation of setting but you do have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy it. IThis was an atmospheric tale based in historical detail and with a great evocation of setting but you do have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy it. I think the author has tried to mitigate this by having the reader engage with the title character's mental health and physical health problems so that those of us who find ghost tales a little hard to believe could enter into the spirit of the book. This isn't a genre I would usually choose but I had been given the recommendation to read it becasue I loved Wilkie Collins The Woman in White. It was an easy read with enough suspense and momentum to keep you interested. The true history links and reading notes in the back of my copy were also interesting....more
For me Zeitz has managed to strike the right balance between academic history and journalistic style making this a very entertaining read with just thFor me Zeitz has managed to strike the right balance between academic history and journalistic style making this a very entertaining read with just the right amount of substance. The main 'characters' - The Fitzgeralds, Lois Long, Clara Bow etc - were brought to life again and act as a focus to tell the story of a new 'modern' generation. I was disappointed however that the story did not play out as I had imagined it to. These were not pioneers of feminism but very confused women. The hedonism and frivolity the fashions, the morals and the extreme behaviours were largely limited to a small section of 'monied' women. These women were financed by men - fathers, husbands and boyfriends (who traded meals and fancy clothes for company and perhaps more). The advertising men, the film makers, the marketing departments, the authors and journalists defined 'the flapper' not the women themselves who got hooked onto an illusion of freedom that turned out to be disappointing. Patriarchal control was still alive and strong - most of these women married in the conventional way or struggled dishearteningly towards sad ends. I can see why the suffragettes found the flapper vapid and detrimental to their cause - true equality was not 'real' for the flapper. The fun had a high price. I was sad while reading this book but it was overall a very engaging way to learn about this part of women's history and how it has developed and fuelled modern consumerism ever since. Interesting characters and interesting times....more
This book was great fun to read - like a rollercoaster of grit and determination combined with a guilty look at the pleasures and perversions of the RThis book was great fun to read - like a rollercoaster of grit and determination combined with a guilty look at the pleasures and perversions of the Roman age. - certainly a page turner and a perfect escape from my normal reading choices....more