24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Larger than life characters will hook you into this magical novel,
This review is from: Water For Elephants (Paperback)This is a novel with big characters and a big love story. Of course, it all unfolds under the big top that is the story's setting.
Jacob Jankowski finds the loves of his life after joining the Benzini Brothers crumbling circus during the Great Depression: the charming and beautiful circus star Marlena, and the circus's other feature performer, Rosie, a delightful and crafty elephant.
The sideshow of supporting characters is rich and fascinating. There is Camel, the elderly man who gets more enjoyment from alcohol in Prohibition era America than the circus he can barely work for; Kinko, the Shakespeare loving, grumpy dwarf; ringmaster Uncle Al, who feeds his animals better than he pays his workers (after all, people won't show up for a circus without animals!), and the manipulative August, the animal trainer with a penchant for hooks and whips.
Author Gruen shows us the dark side of circus life after the big top closes down. Although the love story is front and centre, the sinister side of the circus life is revealed through various acts of greed, deception, and cruelty. The novel is impeccably researched for its portrayal of the circus and its performers, and also for the aching sadness and desperation of the Depression years.
Water for Elephants is an entertaining read; it is like a tightrope act that makes you hold your breath in admiration until the performer takes her final step to safety. [Amy MacDougall]