Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Lay down vampires. Pave way for that literary genre known as historical fiction. With books so well written as Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, readers will quickly become spoiled by clever plot (with embedded biblical symbolism), compelling backstories about circus folks, subtlety pleasing prose, robust dialogue, gripping cruelties, and the clincher - a love story to die for.

The tale is about Jacob Jankowski - a 90-something (he forgets) nursing home resident who is watching a circus set up across the street. He begins to reminisce events of his youth - unbelievable events as he found himself in the midst of a quagmire as a circus menagerie attendant.

The author aptly pulls us into Jacob's life. One minute we're sitting with him in his room. Sometimes we're humored by his wit which involves his sharp sense of his dull surroundings. Other times we're saddened by his lonely and deteriorating situation. But in a flash, we traverse to the Depression era world of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth - Jacob's youth.  Novelist, Sara Gruen is so crafted at her art, I  read this book in colors. The transition from Jacob's nursing home room to the circus world was in sepia. (As a matter of fact, when editing this post, I had to to change the word "movie" to "book" several times. Talk about creating imagery.)

Okay, I must admit that perhaps the movie trailers with the handsome lead may have motivated the read...but the first few paragraphs quickly had me hooked. And I'm not even sure if I want to see parts of the movie, because there were cruelties that were certainly difficult to digest. Again - another indication of the author's writing talent.  But overall, I found the tale from beginning to end a complete indulgence.

I have a few indicators of great reads - compulsion and bookmarked prose. This book scored high on both of these. I was going to quote a sampling so readers could at least have a "taste." But guess what? I couldn't find a passage where I felt I could stop. I started reading the whole thing again. So get your own selves hooked at the Amazon's "Look Inside"section!

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