I was very grateful to be included in the first Love a Book bookgroup reading, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. The book arrived some weeks ago, and I started reading it almost straight away. Then there was Cybermummy, then there was Kentwell. And I forgot to take it with me camping, not that I ever had much time to read, so it’s taken til tonight for me to finish it.
This is no reflection on the book. When I finally got around to picking it up again today after a couple of weeks away from it, I sank straight back into it again. The story telling is compulsive, the characters memorable, though by no means softly drawn, and not all engaging, some almost repulsive tbh. The story has its darker sides as well, and there are moments of high drama, all interspersed with the maudlin day to day reality of life in a care home as a 93 year old.
To begin with I found the slipping between times distracting, but that quickly wore off – I’m a little surprised how many books I’ve read recently have this device in them, it’s obviously caught on rather. Gruen handles it well – it could so easily grate to have the main character changing so drastically in his own viewpoint from page to page – and it provides welcome counter point to what is a very nervy story at certain points. I was also surprised that I wasn’t put off by the adult nature of some scenes – I’ve read my fair share of chick lit, but that tends to gloss over the details or romanticise it somewhat. There’s not a lot of romanticising of some of young Jacob’s grittier experiences, and yet he is still a character you can identify with to some extent, and understand what he might be going through.
Running away to join the circus is probably something we’ve all considered. Certainly my favourite book as a child was Mr. Galliano’s Circus in which a whole family does precisely that. In this story, Jacob runs away but joins the circus accidentally and in fact reluctantly, and thus the ending which rather sneaks up on you, is quite unexpected. I’m always pleased when a book manages an unexpected but entirely fitting ending, so I was able to enjoy this one right to the very last page, and I’ll certainly be looking out for more books by this author.
Thanks so much for choosing this one for us to read Cara.
I won this book as part of Cara’s first book group. I’ve listed it as one of my 100 books, though I’ve completely lost track of where I’m up to, and as a small child keeps coming and jumping on me, I stand no chance of working it out tonight. Back tomorrow to sort that.
You can see what the other members of the bookgroup thought by following around the bloghop.
Took me a bit longer to sort it out. This is book 82.
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