Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Water for Elephants: A Review

My sister has been asking me if I had read "Water for Elephants" and she recommended it, promising that we'll watch the movie together.  I usually like to read a book before I watch a movie and thought I would try it out.

Title: Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: April 8, 2007

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: First, here is the summary of "Water for Elephants" from Amazon - As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

A New York Times Best Seller - my first impressions were that this book was painfully hard to get into!  I started the book a few weeks ago and I couldn't get past the first few chapters.  Since I'm jobless right now, I decided to finally sit down and finish the book.  I finally got into the book around chapter eight.  This book is definitely not a young adult book - but is plainly an adult book due to the sometimes erotic and sexually charged scenes.  I really didn't want to read about the woman putting her breast into her mouth and sucking it.  Not very tasteful in my opinion.  

The book was interesting, since it was written in two perspectives - one from Jacob at age 23 and the other at age 93 and they switched throughout the story.  It did help reading that way.  Also, the plot seemed original - A veterinary student dropping out before finals as his parents have suddenly died and he has nothing, so he joins the circus.  Not something I've read before.

Romantic Element: The romantic relationship between Jacob and Marlena was sweet, though I really did not expect to read all of the details of their love making.  (Too much information there.)  The reader does not know really until the ending of the story what will happen with the relationship, even though the 93 year old Jacob was married, but it never says to who and I liked that element.  I like being able to guess.  Though partly, the relationship was a little flat and that bothered me.  I had a hard time really believing their love due to that.  There's also the abusive relationship between Marlena and her husband, August, which adds another element to the forbidden romance.  He was a horrible person, which he was supposed to be and I didn't care for his character.

Overall:   The book was pretty good, but I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters.  It reminded me of "The Great Gatsby" where you aren't supposed to actually like any of the characters.  I think I liked the bitter 93 year old Jacob best since I never really felt much connection to the younger Jacob, even though he's the exact same age as me.  I liked the book, but it was a difficult read at times.  It just wasn't fantastic.  I'm a little squeamish and I didn't really like the details of beating animals and women and lots of sex. I give it a 3/5 stars.  Good, but not really fantastic.



At least in other news, I got some wonderful help from three lovely ladies and I'm much happier with my pitch for ABNA.  Thanks to Dawn, Cheryl, and Krista!  You should definitely check out these ladies blogs! :)  I will share my pitch with you on the opening day for the contest!

12 comments:

  1. I stopped reading it after the first erotic scene, not my taste.

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    1. Good choice Jen! It wasn't really my taste either.

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  2. thank you. prob wont see movie either, tho i'm sure its prob not as erotic & i love reese witherspoon

    makes me wonder how books get chosen to be movies...pick me!

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    1. You're welcome, lol. I agree, who does get to chose what are made into movies? Not always the best choices.

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  3. I read this book over the summer and I actually really enjoyed it. I agree with you, the sexual stuff was a little over the top, but I think the author was just trying to show the true identity/lifestyle of the circus back then.

    Did you read her little blurb about all the research she did at the end? I found that section very interesting!

    I love historical fiction, and I also thought the plot was very interesting, but as you said, their romance left more to be desired. I didn't really believe that they had something that was going to last.

    I'd give it a 4/5 for originality. Plus when I was reading it I had dreams about circuses so it must have sunk in deep lol

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    1. I understand the author trying to describe the lifestyle of the time and I actually like historical fiction, but the romance was.. almost fake like. I didn't sense any depth. I did read her blurb about her research, wow.

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  4. Have you read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? I'm trying to read it right now and having the same issues getting into it that you had with water for elephants. I'm on page 188 of 326 and I'm still not caught by it. Its been taking me like a week and a half to force myself to read it.

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  5. Good review, didn't realize some of that stuff was in there, I've been told to read and now I'm not thinking I should. The movie looks like Titanic in the circus to me so I probably won't see that either.

    Thanks for signing up for the Valentine's day bloghop! I look forward to reading you scene :)

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    1. I'd been told to read it too, and gave in. You definitely don't need to read it. :) I watched the movie tonight and parts of it really did remind me of Titanic, except it was the circus! Great comparison.

      I'm saving my scene until Valentine's day. I'm very excited to share it, though it is a little bittersweet. :)

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  6. This book is on my To Read list, but I've been putting it off for some reason. Are you saying she put her own breast in her mouth and sucked it? How on earth? Did she have a freakishly long neck?

    I saw the movie on an airplane a few months ago though and it was pretty good!

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    1. I had put it off too and you might just wanna leave it off. She apparently had big and droopy ones... ew. I watched the movie tonight and it was pretty good, though parts of it weren't right with the book.

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  7. I have to reiterate Emily, I was wondering how she could suck her own breast. Eugh. Things like that really put me off from books, so thanks for the warning!

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