review | water for elephants

I am one of those people who likes to read the book before watching the movie.

I’d heard of the NY Times best seller Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen but hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. That was until I started seeing ads for the film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. I just had to read it before seeing the film.

There isn’t a lot for 90 year old Jacob to do alone with his thoughts and flailing fragile body in his room at the retirement home. His mind is as active and imaginative as it always has been, it’s just his body that isn’t willing or able.

With his wife gone and his grown family absorbed in their own lives, Jacob spends his days & nights remembering back to the time when at the cusp of the Great Depression he is orphaned by a car crash, quits university just shy of his degree, jumps a train and finds himself aboard the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, changing the course of his life forever.

The story is not only that of adventure, love and friendship but a reminder that age is purely the passing of time.

Jacob finds a makeshift family among the circus’ vagabonds, freaks and animals but it is Marlena the beautiful star of the equestrian act who takes his breath away. She is married to August a ruthlessly cruel task master who flits between bouts of charismatic brilliance and maniacal violence.

The arrival of Rosie the elephant brings hope for the struggling circus and what happens in the following months becomes stuff of circus legend.

For Jacob the circus is both a salvation and a living hell, but through it all Marlena, Rosie and Jacob form an unlikely trio and create a binding bond that will save them all.

An enthralling and beautiful read!