Saturday, April 16, 2011

Water for Elephants

My roommate Miranda and I recently crafted a list of 50 books we would like to read in the next year.  You can see the list (and read more about my wonderful roommate) here.  If we want to finish the list within a year, we're each going to have to read about a book a week.  That's a lot of reading, but that's also the point of the list - for us to read a lot.  We came up with the list on April 6.  So, we have until April 6, 2012 (with a little room for give or take) to finish 50 books.  I've already been able to check one off the list.

Unbeknownst to me, Miranda had already chosen to give me a book from the list for my birthday which was the day after we came up with our list.  Needless to say, I started with that one, Water for Elephants.  I finished it this week (within seven days, so I'm on a good pace for a book a week) and am looking forward to Miranda reading it soonish so we can talk about it.  (I say soonish because she started with the whopping 1024 page novel Gone with the Wind.)  Once we both read it, we'll see the movie.  One of my favorite things to do is to compare a movie to the book on which it's based.  And it's always more fun when there's a friend with whom to do the comparing.  

So, about the book.  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is the tale of an accidental member of a traveling circus.  Jacob looks back on the events of his life from the nursing home where he lives.  After unexpectedly losing his parents just before completing his final exams for vet school, he stumbles (ok, more like leaps) upon a circus train and ends up traveling with "The Most Spectacular Show on Earth" as the circus vet.  Torn between his developing affection for one of the performers and his moral obligation to respect her husband, Jacob struggles with the lifestyle and culture of a traveling circus.  

I can't give away anymore of the plot (and I'm bad at cliffhangers), but I will say that the story didn't turn out the way I expected it to.  Not being sure what to expect, I was surprised at parts of the story and how the conflict was resolved.  I'm looking forward to how the movie will depict this interesting series of events and character development.  A bit of a warning - the novel is quite graphic in parts, so I can't fully condone it.  I hope the movie is more tasteful, but I'm trying not to set my expectations too high.  

Have you read Water for Elephants?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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