Fanny's Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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's review
Aug 18, 2007

liked it
Recommended for: Anyone looking for a quick, light read
Read in August, 2007

I enjoyed this book but did not feel it quite lived up to the high ratings I based my purchase on. Part of its appeal was the promise of a circus story. And the story was very realistic in some ways, detailing how difficult and unrewarding (not to mention very dangerous)that life could be.

Some of the most interesting and moving parts of the book were actually those that took place in the nursing home that Jacob now lives in, remembering his youth with the circus. The author did a great job in describing the sadness, loneliness and other problems that befall the very aged. Especially those nearly forgotten by their families. Their cold treatment at the hands of people who barely see these elderly souls as human is all too real, having witnessed this myself when working in this type of facility. And another reason why I got out of nursing.

The love story was so-so, and years were wrapped up too quickly, at least for my taste. I looked forward to more stories of Jacob as the circus veterinarian. There was alot of potential there for interesting and moving stories about the animals, but that aspect was barely touched upon. Rather it was more about Jacob's obsession with the beautiful Marlena.

I loved many of the interesting characters, but always felt I did not quite know them in spite of their frequent appearances throughout the story. Walter the dwarf as an example. He was one of my favorite characters. I found myself wanting more of his own story, but it wasn't there.

I would recommend this as a light summer read, but would not look for more than an interesting diversion and brief look into the world of the circus folk when the animals were still transported by train and when the circus coming to town was the biggest news of the month.
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