Thursday, June 19, 2008

Water for Elephants

You're going to notice that the pictures with this post have absolutely nothing to do with the title. It's fine, though. It's fine because they're pretty and it's June and warm and the daylilies are blooming. Yeah, my internet situation is the pits, but the sun is shining! And it's really not that hot outside. And life is fine.
So, instead of visiting blogs or doing things on the internet, I'm reading. I love reading and I've just finished Water for Elephants and I really enjoyed it.
The book is set in the year 1931 and after the prologue, we open up in a lecture hall at Cornell University. Our lead character, Jacob Jankowski, is sitting in class, listening to a boring professor when suddenly, the dean comes in and asks to see him.
Without divulging too much information about their conversation, Jacob is left in shock. What happens next had me riveted all evening and when I looked up, it was way past my bedtime, and I couldn't wait to begin reading it the following evening.
The story slips back and forth from the present, where we find Jacob in a nursing home, old and gnarled at the age of 91, or is it 93? He can't remember and it pisses him off no end. He's afraid because he's remembering the circus like it was yesterday and then he'll wake up and realize he's old. His memories are brought on due to the fact that a circus is coming to town, and it's being set up in the parking lot right next to the nursing home. All the elderly residents are watching its progress.
The story that takes place for 3 1/2 months of his young life is riveting, to say the least. I WILL tell you that he joins a circus. I know, that sounds odd, but it's where he ended up when he came out of shock.
There's a love story that involves a woman who seems unattainable and an elephant who is thought to be as "dumb as a sack of hammers" until Jacob shows her kindness and respect.
There's death, there's cruelty, but best of all, there's the steamy circus history that the author has researched very well. She even uses original photographs at the beginning of each chapter.

I really didn't think I'd like a book that this sort of backdrop, but I'm glad to have read it. The last page found me with a smile on my face, and I actually laughed out loud with glee at the end.
I like a book that makes me feel good at the end, don't you?


Anonymous said...

I've heard it's a wonderful book.

Rebecca said...

i read that when it came out. liked it well enough, but am amazed at how popular it still is. hope you're enjoying it! i mean, who doesn't like a story featuring trains and circuses?

Debra (a/k/a Doris, Mimi) said...

There is nothing like loosing yourself in a good book. My current read is The Host by Stephenie Meyer. It is awesome and I have a hard time putting it down. I jumped right into it after work last night and read straight through until 11:00pm -- 5 straight hours! I didn't even realize what time it was until my dogs looked at me pitfully as if to say "Aren't you EVER going to bed?"

Pony Girl said...

Thanks for sharing, I am looking for some good summer reads (if I can tear myself away from all the blogs, lol! ;)
I also have a soft spot in my heart for elephants. I do not really advocate the use of animals in a circus. When I started teaching at my school 8 years ago, they did a circus unit with the kids and a few years later finally I said no more. So I am interested to see where this novel goes with it's perspective.

Mary said...

What is it about a good story? There seems to be an almost elemental need in each of us for a REALLY GOOD STORY. I feel sorry for those who, for whatever reason, are not able to read or enjoy books. They are missing so much!

As usual, LOVE your pictures, Kate! Have a wonderful weekend. :)

Mental P Mama said...

I was on the fence about this book...and now I am going to read it! Thanks for the review.

Country Girl said...

Welcome, Rebecca!

Not everyone is going to love this book, I'll tell you that right now. There are some sections that may leave you squeamish, but I enjoyed so many aspects of it.

I never enjoyed the circus as a child. I remember going one time and never again. The elephants looked 'sad' to me. Pony Girl, the cool thing is that the author did a lot of research about the circus, research was that extremely difficult to do because of the secrecy. Nobody wanted to talk. She explains it in the question and answer session at the end of the book.

Debra, thanks for the tip about the Stephenie Meyer book! I'll be sure to look for that one.

Thanks, all!

~ C.G.

Shimmy Mom said...

I love a good book! I read at least one a month. I just finished The Phantom of the Opera. I knew that the movies and musical were based on a book. But I didn't know that the book is based on a true story and I was amazed how close the movies are to the story. (Movies usually ruin the book) Like you I couldn't put it down. I finished it in 2 days. Now I have to repent and go do the dishes and 3 loads of laundry before I can start something else. But I'll be putting you book on my list.

Leslie: said...

Thanks for the good review. I just might get that one. I love to read sitting on my chaise on the patio in the summer. Unfortunately, we haven't had enough summery days yet for me to enjoy this sedentary activity. But I'll look into this book so I'll have it on hand for just such a time that will hopefully arrive soon! :D

Chocolate Cat said...

Always looking for a good book to read so thank you for sharing this one - I hadn't heard of it but have written it down for my next trip to the library or bookstore!

brneyedgal967 said...

That sounds like a wonderful book! :-)

Pat - Arkansas said...

Hmmm... I'll check my library for 'Water for Elephants.' Thanks for the review.

The daylily photos are gorgeous (you *knew* I'd say that, didn't you?)

I'm happy for you that an angel appeared out of the wild blue. :)

Anonymous said...

Did you pass on your internet problems? MY internet is now wonky at the apartment. I'm not amused.

That book sounds really interesting. I should check it out.

Jeannelle said...

I really love the second lily photo! Really striking!