Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and a list!

I'm reading ¨Water for Elephants" written by Sara Gruen for our book club meeting next Friday. "Water for Elephants" is a wonderful break from the usual material I have read this summer. The list includes "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Spendid Suns" both by Khaled Hosseini, "Abundance: a Novel of Marie Antoinette" and "Ahab's Wife" by Sena Jeter Nashlund, "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi just to name a few. "Water for Elephants" is just plain fun and interesting.

The story is told by Jacob, a 90 or 93 year year old retired veterinarian, from his residence in a nursing home. He tells the story of circus life during the depression and how he came to be there.. The times are hard and the story carries you along creating images of small towns with angry sheriffs, cities where there is no work to be had and a train carrying the workers, performers, menagerie, the young Jacob and one magnificent, brilliant elephant. There is a beautiful equestrian performer and her bipolar husband, a midget and a lovable drunk. The future of the circus revolves around the dream of the circus owner to have an elephant in the show. The elephant named Rosie, like most of the people that perform or work on the circus, came to this place because it seemed to be the only place left for her to go. However, unlike the people that work on the circus, Rosie has found new, ingenious and often maddening ways to get revenge on the circus, the menagerie manager and the circus owner. I have a feeling that no good will come of it all. It certainly is a wonderful read. The stories of the young Jacob and the old Jacob are beautifully woven together and I can certainly see that they are indeed the same person inside even though age has taken it's toll.

I have not finished the book. I did not want to finish reading it before I wrote about it. I am always afraid I will reveal the end. It is a book recommended for book clubs but the web site, about.com:bestseller suggested that you did not read the questions until after you had finished with the book because it would ruin the surprises around the corner. Now I can hardly wait to read more.

Just as an added note: I often read the questions for book clubs and wonder if the people that write them have read the same book I did. Many times I wonder if they are asking the right questions, maybe the hard questions. Reading for discussion does require more attention than just reading for pleasure. It is interesting.


Books waiting to be read:
"My Antonia" by Willa Cather
"Teacher Man" by Frank McCourt
"Lost in the City" by Edward P. Jones (National Book Award Finalist)
"The Known World" by Edwar P. Jones ( Pulitzer Prize winner in 2004.)
"The Risk Pool" Richard Russo. (He also so wrote "Empire Falls" and "Straight Man"

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