Book Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

No spoilers!

My choice reads as of late have mainly been historical fiction, but Water for Elephants piqued my curiosity as I love old, vintage type circus themes. I set out to read this book hoping for an easy read- something to enjoy over the holidays.

This atmospheric novel takes place in the circus setting circa 1932. Right off the bat, Gruen draws the reader in through her gritty showmanship of characters, setting, and plot. Personalities are developed in the way only true writers can do, complete with true and unwavering personality traits.

Newly orphaned Jacob Jankowski finds himself adrift, entering a world of various freaks, drifters, and misfits. The plot details his time aboard the circus train, developing the climax further at each stop the circus makes.

Gruen utilizes compelling details to capture the readers’ imagination, foreseeing which characters will be cherished and which are lacking in redeeming qualities. The combination of depredation and restitution enhance the plotline even further, as the reader becomes more captivated and intrigued with each turn of the page.

The love story is beautifully intertwined, and sense of time and place remain illuminated throughout the duration of the novel. This was a quick, easy read- mostly because I had a hard time putting it down. This is one of those reads that make it easy to be consumed, fully enveloped inside the story itself.

Let me know if you read the book and how you like it. I’m also curious to know how the movie turned out!

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