Jake: Background information when reading Water for Elephants

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Water for Elephants

A Novel

by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants
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  • First Published:
    May 2006, 335 pages
    May 2007, 368 pages

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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!)

In addition to the glamorous aspects of circus life, Gruen also shows many of the harsh realities of life during the depression, such as Jamaica ginger paralysis which crippled approximately 100,000 ...

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