Thursday, February 10, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

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