At any rate, by the time I finished that book I was ready for a truly enjoyable read--and I found one. A friend of mine had told me that she recently read Water for Elephants and "just loved it." So, I bought it on her say-so alone. (I had a bit of fun buying the book--while my daughter was here visiting, we went to a bookstore one day, and this book was one I wanted to buy. But I couldn't remember the author's name. So I went to the help desk and said Water for Elephants, but I don't know who wrote it. Oh, the help desk woman said, Sara Gruen--only the woman's accent was a very thick German accent, so the R in Sara was swallowed, and Gruen came out like, well, Gruen--only said in the back of her mouth. But she immediately knew where the book was!)
I LOVED IT.
Let's see--from the opening scene, where the reader meets the main character, Jacob, and learns that a catastrophe has just occurred in the Big Top (there is an animal stampede) to the very closing scene, where this catastrophic scene is reprised, this book is a charmer.
Told in first person narrative, the novel alternates sections in the voice of Jacob, who shares the narration with himself. The reader hears the voice of young Jacob (during the Depression) interspersed with the voice of 90 + year old Jacob (in current time). Young Jacob is a student at Cornell who, for reasons the reader learns, has to leave school suddenly. Since he has nowhere to go, he wanders disconsolately and, on a whim, hops aboard a passing train. Much to his surprise, the train turns out to be a circus train.
Eventually, he gets a job as the circus vet--he had been in the vet training program at Cornell. And from there, his life takes off.
The characters are vividly, lovingly and convincingly drawn. The dialogue crackles with authenticity of real people speaking. Some of the most poignant scenes are with old Jacob, now in a nursing home, longing for authentic experiences in life--including real food.
Along the way, the reader learns all sorts of inside information on life within the travelling circuses of the Depression era. And, one of the central characters is an elephant named Rosie.
The book simply flies by--it is such an easy enjoyable read. In fact, I made myself slow down a bit to savor the enjoyment a bit.
All in all--another TERRIFIC READ.