Saturday, January 3, 2009

Water for Elephants

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.


Kallen305 said...

Thanks for the review. I too have a low tolerance for books that are too sad and violent and shy away from them so I am going to have to definately check this one out.

KGMom said...

Oh oh oh--I loved Water for Elephants. Just such a sweet story.

I particularly liked the two Jacobs--and the way the author gave authentic voice to Jacob as a young man and old Jacob.

Enjoy it!

SJ said...

I read this book over the summer and loved it. I want to see if this author has written other books since I was so easily wrapped up in the story. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it too.

Ruth said...

I really enjoyed this book too. It was recommended to me by the psychologist on our geriatric unit. I liked the old Jacob. It is not without its dark moments, but the ending is happy.

Rondi said...

I'm glad to know this. I have had the book since July, a friend gave it to me after reading and enjoying it. I've not read it yet, but it's working its way to the top of my stack of must-reads.

And yes, Sara Gruen has written 2 other books. I read "Riding LEssons" and really enjoyed it.

Sara Ray said...

hooray i successfully recommended a book!! I did really like this one... her style was just so fluid and good, not overly stylized or forced. and the story was just so good... i'm glad you liked it!

Jayne said...

It's always so wonderful to dive into a book that is so satisfying. :c)

Ginger said...

Thanks, Beth, for dropping by my blog and commenting ... and for the great book recommendation.

Who knows, your church's prayers probably made a difference for us and many other missionaries. Although I was completely unaware, as a child, of being supported by many prayers in the U.S., I'm very thankful for those now.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I am glad to know it was written during NaNoWriMo. Now, I have to read it. Adding it to my Amazon list for after my Kindle comes in! :)

marianne said...

I listened to this book on CD when I drove across country. I was equally taken with it. I loved the cantankerous old Jacob!

Beth said...

Kallen, it's a good one, there are some gritty parts but it's written for sensitive souls.

KGMom, Both Jacobs were as lovable as could be.

SJ, There are other books by the author that I'd be interested in reading too.

Ruth, I liked what the old Jacob taught us about the way to treat elderly people. Good lessons there.

Rondi, it's a quick moving book and I expect it will be a treat when it makes its way to the top of your stack.

Sara, I love you, you crazy girl.

Jayne, it is indeed.

Ginger, I've been reading your blog for awhile but just commented for the first time. It's interesting that at least three of the people whose blogs I enjoy grew up as missionary kids.

egretsnest, I added the part about NaNoWriMo just to inspire you! We'll be reading your novel on our kindles before long.

marianne, I bet it was fun to listen to as you drove across the country in your car rather than a circus train.

julochka said...

i keep seeing that book around in the airport bookshops, now i'll have to check it out. :-)

NCmountainwoman said...

I read "Water for Elephants" when it first came out, thanks to the recommendation of our local book seller. I also really enjoyed it, although I must admit I was quite fearful Jacob would not make it to the circus. The interactions between him and the nursing home staff are so true to life.

TheElementary said...

I knew just a little about this book, but not at all about how it came to be written. That's amazing. And worth another look, then.
I don't read as much fiction as I used to. If it doesn't grab me by the fifth page I know that it never will, and life is too short to keep trying. Mater will never give up a book but I'm impatient :)