Wednesday, March 30, 2011

PBG Book Club: Water for Elephants

I have been without a television for over a month now.  At first I thought I was going to miss it a lot and was planning a strategy to save up and buy a new one right away.  But, there were a few things holding me back.  The cost – a 42” television is about $650 and I can think of so many other things I could spend that money on…like the mortgage, or more TOMs.  Also, I have been boycotting two of the primary cable companies in my area – Rogers and Bell Canada – for several years now and I wasn’t sure I wanted to lift that boycott just because I wanted to watch mostly bad television.  So, needless to say I have been putting it off despite good sales and suggestions from friends and family.
But, I have discovered something wonderful about not having a television.  I am far more productive and seem to have way more free time.  And, to be honest, I do have a few television shows I enjoy and have been able to watch them online when I want to on my laptop which isn’t so bad.
So, thanks to my newfound free time I was able to plough through 3 books this month - one book for my official book club and 2 books for pleasure.  The Book Club selection this month was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
 
Water for Elephants is the story of Jacob Jankowski and the dark side of his career in a travelling circus and how he came to be with the love of his life, Marlena.  The story moves between the traveling circus in 1930 and the story of the older Jacob’s fight to maintain sanity in a nursing home. The villain of the story is the animal trainer, August, who is a brutal man who abuses the animals in his care (such as the new elephant Rosie) as well as the people around him.  While learning to work with the animals as the circus veterinarian Jacob falls in love with Marlena, the horse trainer and August’s abused wife.
While most of Water for Elephants is about the circus, the chapters about the older Jacob provide a depth to the novel and poignancy to the story that makes the whole book richer and more real.  The book was easy to read and was very entertaining.  The movie adaptation of the book is scheduled to come out next month and I can see how this story could make for an interesting movie. 
I really enjoyed this book and quickly fell in love with the cast our outcast characters.  Walter, the dwarf and his Jack Russell, Queenie, Camel, the alcoholic and Rosie the stubborn elephant.  The story itself is interesting but so is the topic.  The travelling circus is not discussed much in modern literature and while the story is fiction it is drawn from research into real travelling circus’s in the 1930s.
I would certainly recommend this book to anyone that is looking for a fun and interesting book that will keep you up past your bedtime waiting to see what happens next.
I also read two other books this month: Little Bee by Chris Cleave and Room by Emma Donoghue.  I will be sure to post my review of these two books soon as well.
I am responsible for choosing the book at our next Book Club meeting so if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments below.


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