I'd seen this book around for a while, but it wasn't until I saw a trailer for the upcoming movie that I decided I wanted to read the book. I added it to my reading list for this year. I picked twelve books, assigned them each to a month, and Water for Elephants was my January book.
I've had a Kindle since October, but I've avoided buying books for it, opting instead for the free books - classics and short stories. I was planning to take a trip to New Jersey at the end of January and it seemed like a good reason to buy a new book for the Kindle.
Snow in Jersey cancelled my trip. But the following week an ice storm had me trapped at home. I climbed in bed, under a pile of blanket with my Kindle and it's lighted cover and began to read Water for Elephants.
The experience taught me that I very much love my Kindle, it is an excellent bed partner. Water for Elephants though was just okay.
The story is interesting enough. A man in a nursing home is remembering his younger days when he worked as a vet at the circus. The circus traveled by train, a small village almost, with workers and performers. There are some very unusual and interesting characters in this group. The author did quite a bit of research. At the end she explains that a lot of the events were taken from actual stories she found in her research.
I never felt a strong connection to the characters. A lot of the story was kind of gruesome and violent, and each event like that cause me to pull away from the story a bit more and care a bit less about the characters involved. The romance in the story, which is an important element, left me cold. I never understood what was so amazing about Marlena other than she was beautiful and Jacob was young and inexperienced. I think at that point in his life, any woman would seem rather spectacular.
Another thing that kept bothering me about the novel is that I had trouble visualizing life on the train. I could never picture how they were traveling from car to car, or the way things were set up. That might be the result of my limited knowledge of trains, but I found that frustrating because I was trying to imagine in and never quite figured it out.
The book was okay, I didn't hate it, but I think I expected to like it much more. I thought it would be more romantic or more fun, and it wasn't, not for me at least.
I know a lot of people like this book, so I wouldn't warn anyone away from it, maybe it's just not type of story. I'm still very much looking forward to seeing the movie.
finished reading February 9, 2011