Normally, I shy away from novels because I never know how they will affect me. Due to the horrors that are routinely part of my job and some difficult years of personal trouble, my brain is unable to deal sensibly with what I think of as the emotional manipulation of certain novels and movies.
Because my children understand better than anyone my low emotional risk tolerance, I trust their recommendations of books and movies. Recently, daughter Sara told me that she had read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and thought that I would enjoy it.
Over these first few days of 2009, I have spent hours wrapped up in an electric blanket reading my way through and when I finished it this morning, it left me with all the joy and transportation of a novel and with a few tears--but they were easily managed happy tears. This book could not have had a better ending.
The novel is a good story wrapped up in the setting of circus life during the Depression years. I could almost smell the stale popcorn and feel the gum on my shoe as I followed the adventures of almost-veterinarian Jacob Jankowski as he traveled with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.
An interesting note is that the first draft of the novel was written during NaNoWriMo.