Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen.
The back of my copy says “there’s a reason why Water For Elephants has sold millions of copies, spent years on the New York Times bestseller list and been a book group favourite. It’s phenomenal story telling.”
Never has a truer statement been made.
I’ll be honest, before the lovely faced RPATTZ started popping up on telly promoting the film adaptation of this I had never even heard of it. I wish to DeadGod that I had and that I had managed to get out there and own this before the film came to be. I haven’t seen the film and I’m sure its great (its got Christoph freaking Waltz in it so it can’t be anything short of spectacular) but I do always like to know of original stories before hand. Guess I’m a bit pretentious that way.
Anyway, it is amazing.
It flows between the protagonist Jacob’s past working for a circus and his present, as an elderly man in a retirement home, widowed and all but forgotten by his family. He feels trapped in his elderly body, unable to eat proper food or recall events that happened the day before, but as far as his time with the circus is concerned his memory is perfect.
The story is basically the tale of how Jacob came to be with the circus at 23 during the American depression, how he ended up falling for his bosses wife and his connection to the various animals he cared for, including an elephant called Rosie. The flips between the two aspects of Jacob’s life are seamless, really the whole thing is flawless and there’s such an unexpected (well for me anyway) twist to the thing. The book starts with a dramatic event, and at the time I thought it was odd, starting there, essentially giving away the whole plot, but then it revisits and it isnt what I thought it was at all! Maybe I’m just dim, but I thought it was really clever.
Also, having worked at an old people’s home, the scenes there were really touching and heartbreaking for me because I could picture it perfectly and there were so many people I met that were exactly in Jacob’s shoes and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Just a side note – having seen the trailers and now read the book, Christoph Waltz is perfectly cast, yet again. His character is so complex and so crazy and even though I haven’t seen the film yet I can’t imagine anyone but him playing August.
Water For Elephants is amazing, I have no idea what the film is like but the book is fabulous.