Gruen, Sara "Water for Elephants" - 2006
The majority of our readers liked this book. I didn't. The pro arguments: it was a nice, light, easy, fast read. Not necessarily something I'm usually looking for.
Anyway, an old man in a care center reminisces about his life in the circus. The readers who liked the book quite liked the stories about the circus and some of us were caregivers and they liked that description. I'm not a huge fan of circuses in the first place and I didn't like that the main character more or less threw his life away. I found the story shallow (and I wasn't the only one).
From the back cover:
"When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth a second-rate travelling circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town.
Jacob, a veterinary student who almost earned his degree, is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.
'Water for Elephants' is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford."
We discussed this in our book club in September 2009.