Book Club: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

August 14, 2011

Image from bookdepository

Well….. a little late bringing this one to you. Book club met more than a week ago, but better late than never….and lets hope my memory doesn’t fail me too much!

Lots of us enjoyed this book.

Although WFE is set in the 1930’s during the prohibition, with chronic unemployment, class stratification and relationships being the plate which this story is served, it is somewhat of a feel good novel. Probably why it was made into a movie……. These tough times give the story it’s grittiness and realism,  the intriguing ‘circus life’ theme gives it a fantasy like escapism.

The last couple of pages where of particular interest to some of us….where Sara Gruen tells of how the book came together after seeing some historical circus photos at a gallery. She had planned to write a very different story up until this point but became inspired to investigated the world of train circus’ that operated across America during this period.

The characters (including the elephant) are complex and well explored, but generally unlike-able. Even the two main characters. This made it hard to read for some who need to like the people in the book. Not so for me….as I quite enjoy the characters exposing aspects of themselves I find distasteful and to not being responsible in anyway to reform them. That, for me, is one of the things that makes reading fiction relaxing. I can encounter people without having to engage with them.

Image from the book depository.

The style of the book is similar to The 19th Wife. It narrated as different characters in different chapters, WFE switches from the present back to the past, but with just a single character narrating. This becomes interesting at the junctures as the narrating voice is a very old man whose memory and writs are failing.

Next Month: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte………loving it so far!

…and I couldn’t resist posting a link to the Kate Bush interpretation of the book….. just for the 70’s- ness of it!

One Response to “Book Club: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen”

  1. susan said

    I loved, loved, loved the book! And yes, the last couple of pages were of particular interest to me, too. That’s why last May, I followed Sara’s trail to Circus City, USA. While there, I visited Circus World Museum. Also saw the Baraboo Red Carpet Premiere of “Water for Elephants.”
    P.S. Here’s my online scrapbook:

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