Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review: "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen

This is one that Hollywood might actually get right.

From what I can tell from the previews, the casting is pretty well done. I’m not a Twihard by any stretch of the imagination (have yet to pick up a book in that series), and I don’t understand the fascination surrounding Robert Pattinson, but he is an absolute perfect choice for the role of Jacob Jankowski in Water for Elephants.

And if you would have asked me yesterday, I would have said Reese Witherspoon would do a great job as the lead female role, but that was before I saw her latest flick, How Do You Know. (Save yourself two hours. It was awful! I forced my husband to watch it, and after about an hour in, I was the one who turned it off). Either way, though, Emily Blunt would have been far better choice to play Marlena, the female lead. I realize I’m about five years behind the Emily Blunt craze, but she is absolutely amazing in anything she does, and this would have been no exception.

But I’m way off track here. If this were a movie review blog, it would merely be a series of posts of me whining about movies that simply wasted a good Saturday evening - especially when they mess with perfectly good books. But it’s not. This space is reserved for books.

And this happens to be one I loved.

I devoured Sara Gruen’s debut novel, Water for Elephants while on bed rest during my twin pregnancy, and I have to say it was the bright spot during my stay in the hospital (aside from the whole giving birth to healthy twin boys, of course).

Beautifully written and truly original, Gruen’s story is set during the Great Depression and starts after the tragic death of Jacob’s parents. Alone and penniless (soon after the funeral he discovers that his father’s farm and veterinary practice has been mortgaged to the hilt) Jacob, an Ivy League veterinary student, literally hops a train and finds himself aboard a traveling circus train car.

Without at job – and now without a home – Jacob seizes the opportunity to use his knowledge and love for animals to earn a living as the animal trainer for the traveling show. After befriending – and ultimately falling in love with – Marlena, a beautiful ex-ballerina and the star of the main event, he soon learns that behind the glitz and glamour of a circus production lays dark secrets and deadly jealousies.

A love story that is filled with passion, intrigue and a most unusual heroine, Water for Elephants is an absolute must-read. And as long as Hollywood doesn’t do anything stupid (like try to change one single thing about the story) it should be an absolute must-see.


As the Crowe Flies and Reads

I must be the only bookseller in the US who hasn't read Water for Elephants yet! I did read Gruen's newer novel but I thought it was only mediocre. Seeing your review makes me realize all over again how much I should go back and pick this book up.

Shopper Gal

Brilliant review (the movie was AMAZINGLY good!!!)


Thanks for the review, I always love to hear about a great new book!
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Shopper Gal

I loved that you stumbled this post. Absolutely amazing review and you're right, I heart Emily Blunt too :)


I just watched that movie. It was horrid.

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