Tuesday, 13 September 2016

On Books | Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen

Having watched the film around when it came out, I had never gotten round to reading the book Water For Elephants. I generally always, always, read the book before the film but this time that just didn't happen! Boyf's mum lent me this book and I got through it so quickly!

The story follows Jacob Jankowski in present day and during his youth. Jacob, now in a carehome, continues to reminisce about his younger days when he ended up working as the vet on a travelling circus. Following the tragic and sudden death of his parents, Jacob never quite finishes his final exams and with little left for him at home he, for want of a better word, runs away. He launches himself at a passing train, without knowing that he has landed in a carriage of the circus' train. 

As Jacob gets situated within the circus, he becomes close with one of the trainers August and his wife Marlena, one of the best performers on the circus. Jacob, as you can imagine, ends up falling for Marlena, which of course, is not without consequence. 
The circus eventually ends up taking on an elephant called Rosie. Jacob becomes extremely attached to her, yet she is difficult to train despite being seemingly very intelligent. Jacob watches over whilst August roughly and harshly attempts to train her to perform with Marlena. Yet August is very troubled and more often than not, things go wrong. 

Gruen writes at the end of the book how she ended up writing a book about circuses and the involvement of elephants. She references a lot of real life tragedies and amazing events that happened in the early 20th Century. Her story developed from real events and she writes in a very accurate way, describing the ins and outs of the circus as if you were watching it. (I have a crippling fear of clowns, but don't worry, they aren't involved; it's all about the animals here!) 
The story, despite having some harrowing scenes, is a very sweet and wonderfully written tale. It almost felt like it could have been a memoir of Jacob. Although not always lighthearted, the story has some beautiful moments in. 

If you are looking for a nice, well written, easy read, then I would definitely recommend this! Just be prepared that there are some aspects of animal cruelty and abuse, which are of course in this case fiction but do bring an awareness of the tragedies that did occur. Not to mention, Rosie is a completely loveable elephant!

Have you read Water for Elephants?