“Water for Elephants,” written by Sara Gruen, is a fantastic whirlwind novel about the up and downs and the toll that the circus life can have on the circus people’s lives.
This novel takes the reader on the journey of a young man by the name of Jacob Jankowski and after the jumping of a train, results in a decision that ultimately changes his life forever. Once on the train, he quickly becomes the circus by telling the ringmaster that he is a Cornell Graduate from Veterinary School. He goes on to help train the recent circus purchase of an elephant named Rosie. Jacob also finds unexpected love with the ringmaster’s wife, Marlena. This causes trouble for Jacob and the young lady over time.
In the other half of the book, it shows where Jacob is now at the age of 85 in a nursing home and quickly declining. Even though at times, he may not know whether he is talking out loud and not remember who his favorite nurse, Rosemary’s name is or even his children at times. He still remembers his love for the circus and the incredible life he was able to form from his experience on that train.
It follows the story of the “Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth” and the ultimate demise of the show as well. From the pressures of putting on the “Most Spectacular Show on Earth” during the Great Depression period in America to the greatest joys and greatest heartbreaks and everything in between.
The book will have you on an emotional rollercoaster at times. A book that with leaves, you want more. A novel full of love, heartbreak and animals. What more would you want?