Water for Elephants: A Novel
by Sara Gruen
Since acquiring my Kindle, I've started playing a new game. I download "samples" of all kinds of books. If I can get hooked in the first few chapters, well clearly the author deserves the book sale.
That is exactly what happened with Water for Elephants. Almost immediately I was completely drawn into the story. Ms. Gruen uses an effective framing device for her tale. Nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski is telling his story in flashbacks from his present in a nursing home. And it is the story of his first job out of veterinary school. The year is 1931 and the country is embroiled in the Depression. Tragedy sends Jacob fleeing his orderly life. Without trying to, the young man winds up running away to the circus.
Water for Elephants is a coming of age novel, a buddy tale, a period drama, and a love story. It's one of those rare novels that seems to captivate almost all readers. I came late to it, but I was as entranced as all those who have raved before me. Gruen's prose is strong, but it's her characters and setting that capture the imagination. I haven't been to a circus in decades, and have no particular interest in that life. But Sara Gruen is a fantastically gifted storyteller, in the most elemental sense of the word. I will be grabbing future novels upon publication. Highly recommended to all who crave a great story!