Water for Elephants
absorbs the reader into the glamorous, colorful but uncertain world of a traveling circus during the
Great Depression, complete with human freak show, exotic animal acts and the like.
The story is told by Jacob Jankowski who, from the confines of his nursing home,
drifts in and out of his memories as he recollects the extraordinary events of
his early months with the circus.
Independent booksellers were all abuzz over Water for Elephants
when it came out in hardcover last year, and in early 2007 voted it the No.1 Book Sense title of 2006. BookBrowse's readers also came down firmly in favor of Water for Elephants
, voting it the No.1 Most Popular book in our Annual Awards - the first time that a 1st novel has won the award.
One reviewer, who didn't appreciate Water for Elephants
the story off...
Beyond the Book
Sara Gruen's first novel, Riding Lessons
, was published in 2004. She is
an animal lover who lives with her husband, three children, five cats, two
goats, a dog, and a horse in an environmental community north of Chicago. She
says that she was a day away from starting a different book when she saw an
article in the Chicago Tribune about a photographer who documented train
circuses during the 1920s and 1930s - she was immediately hooked. Within
weeks she'd tracked down many out of print books on the subject and spent days
at the Ringling Circus Museum.
Her research took a full year, and many of the more extraordinary scenes in the
book are based on fact or anecdote (as Gruen points out the distinction between
the two in circus history is famously blurred!)...