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Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen : book review


What should I start with. Perhaps with what I most liked about this novel? I love the old guy that tells the story. The way old Jacob is described is wonderful, very human and warm. The story had its attractions, but seemed much more interesting because of the old guy that narrates it, because it is told from a perspective of someone who is still young at heart but losing the touch with the world around him. It somehow makes everything feel real. For him, the past is more real then the present and the way he gets immersed into his own story feels very natural...his voice telling the story makes the story what it is.

I think I've read a few novels lately that deal (in a satisfactory way) with what growing old feels like...with no embellishments, no romanticism and no bitterness. It is nice to see this in our age that is so obsessed with youth...( so obsessed with youth that I have a feeling that they invented homes for the elderly just to avoid looking at them, looking at a reminder that some day they too will grow old.)

As for the story, I liked it but there was something a bit naive about it. I think it has something to do with the fact that some of the characters lacked debt. To me the characters felt a bit too much black and white. In addition, the ending was kind of predictable( I mean the ending of young Jacob's story.) However, I think that the nomadic, chaotic circus life is well portrayed. I also liked the photos that go with the book. I think that the author did her job and really researched the time and the period.

This is a circus in a time of financial depression, that is even more stressful than usual. Descriptions of what sometimes happens in the circus are chilling. Gruen captures the dark side of the circus and still manages to preserve its magic. 

Finally...the animals...One thing I really liked : the descriptions of animals in the circus...The animals-they make for some of the most fascinating characters. Rosie, the elephant is something special. Gratulacje, Rosie

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