Review: Water for Elephants

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Water for Elephants

Written by Sara Gruen
Published January 1, 2006 by Algonquin Books
Genre: Fiction, 336 pages 

Water for Elephants is the story of Jacob Jankowski who gives his viewpoint as a young twenty-something year old and a ninety-something year old. He describes his experience being with the Benzini Brothers Circus in the Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Jacob is an orphan veterinary student who turns to the circus by accident. It’s the Great Depression and Jacob has nothing after a devastating car crash that left both parents dead, so he jumps upon a moving train to discover that it’s a traveling circus. Jacob meets many memorable individuals including Marlena who performs an equestrian act. Jacob falls madly in love with Marlena, yet she’s already married to a man with an evil streak. The circus seems to be going downhill, until Rosie the elephant arrives to hopefully create the next big circus act. However, Rosie doesn’t follow commands and frustrates some people who handle the situation poorly. Jacob forms a close bond with Rosie and treats her with care. Terrible incidents occur on the circus and the older Jacob doesn’t share these stories with anyone. The book moves from the past to the present as Jacob finally shares his tales. I thought Water for Elephants was an enjoyable book, but it felt rushed near the end. There were romantic aspects, since there is a growing love between Jacob and Marlena but I wouldn’t describe it as ‘chick lit’. The book highlights aspects during the Great Depression, such as the prohibition and being jobless with no hope. Throughout the book, the reader views real photographs taken from circus life mainly with the Ringling Brothers.

Water for Elephants
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Reese WitherspoonChristoph Waltz
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rated: PG-13 (some violence, sensuality) 
Release Date: April 22, 2011 
Running Time: 2 hours 

I actually watched the film before reading the book. The film closely matched the book. The film didn’t show the older Jacob as much as the book. There is a strong connection between Robert Pattinson as Jacob and Reese Witherspoon as Marlena. You won’t find any ‘vampire-like’ views of Robert Pattinson. There are some violent scenes with cruel animal acts and strong sensuality between Pattinson and Witherspoon. The film felt rushed as it provided information about Jacob’s life after the circus. If you enjoyed the book, you won’t be disappointed with the movie.


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9 thoughts on “Review: Water for Elephants

    jakesprinter said:
    February 26, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Beautiful topic my friend ,Nice 🙂

    orples said:
    February 26, 2012 at 7:17 am

    I’ve heard a lot about this particular book. I sounds like a read, I would enjoy. Thank you for the review.

      Caroline responded:
      February 26, 2012 at 11:58 am

      I think it was an enjoyable read. I’m glad you found my review helpful. Thanks for visiting. 🙂

    Angeline M said:
    February 26, 2012 at 11:04 am

    This is one of those books I couldn’t put down. And you’re right, I was not disappointed with the movie, they did a good job on it.

      Caroline responded:
      February 26, 2012 at 11:59 am

      Sometimes the movie doesn’t do the book justice, but I thought this movie did a good job staying true to the book.

    Claudine Gueh said:
    February 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    I did put this on my to-read list but somehow got the impression the plot promised to be greater than it actually was. Reading your review has sparked a renewed interest. I shall give the novel a go since I love the circus anyway. Thank you for sharing!


      Caroline responded:
      February 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      I sometimes wonder about books that are well known and on the bestseller list if they truly are great. I enjoyed Water for Elephants, so I’d give it a chance. 🙂 Thanks for your kind words.

    Judy said:
    February 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I loved Water For Elephants! Such an awesome book about our rich heritage of traveling circuses. Nice post!

      Caroline responded:
      March 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm

      I’m glad you like the book review. I thought it was a delightful book and I enjoyed the circus photos throughout the book. Thanks for visiting.

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