Friday, 26 August 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I was eager to read this book - the Amazon reviews were highly rated and I had had a few recommendations.  The prologue sucked me in immediately, but I was also immediately off-sided by the first person narrative in the present tense.  However, I was immediately drawn in; the main character was likeable from the start.  I liked Sara Gruen's writing style - without being overly graphic she manages to describe gestures and actions simply, but accurately.  Her portrayal of the main character as an old man is brilliant - his view of his situation and those who care for him at 90 (or 93) is priceless.  There is no doubt that Sara has researched her subject extensively and as a result her story holds credibility.  It flows along nicely - it has a start, a middle and an end - a satisfactory end, to boot.  So it ticked a lot of boxes.  What didn't I like about it?  As mentioned, the present tense narrative just wasn't my cup of tea and for some reason, I couldn't remember all the characters - when the lesser ones cropped up, I would ask myself - who was he/she again ?  I was slightly distressed by the method of demise of a couple of characters whom you grow to like - it didn't seem necessary to the plot and I was very distressed by the animal cruelty, however close to the facts from Sara's research it may have been.  A page turner, most definitely, but whilst I would recommend the book, that recommendation would come with caveats.

4 comments:

  1. I'm reading this right now, and I agree that the first-person narrative is not to my liking, and the back-and-forth between present and past is a little confusing at times. That being said, it does have a very good storyline, and I find the subject absolutely fascinating. I'm anxious to continue with the book. Carol

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  2. I enjoyed this book, too, mostly because it was so unlike any other book. I'm so tired of reading stories about dysfunctional families or women playing the victim. This was a refreshing change. But I'm not surprised that the movie didn't do well.

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  3. The story line was great. The characters were interesting and different. The book moves a long at a nice pace. After the story was finished, I thought about the characters for quite some time and what life would of been like living on a circus train. It is also worth reading the discussion with the Author at the end. She gives some very interesting insight into the circus life and the treatment of elephants.

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  4. This book was a true page-turner. The well-developed characters and their relationships kept my attention throughout the book and always left me wanting to read more. I would suggest this book to any reader, especially those with an interest in this historic, yet little-known subject.

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