BookBrowse Reviews Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

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Water for Elephants

A Novel

by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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  • First Published:
    May 2006, 335 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2007, 368 pages

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An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932. Novel

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, wrote the story off as melodramatic - to which one has to respond, how could a book about the circus not be melodramatic when melodrama virtually defines the circus!

All in all, this is a highly enjoyable, well-researched, somewhat romantic read that brings to life the era of the traveling circus and small town America in a time far harder for most than the current day.

Reviewed May 2006

This review was originally published in July 2006, and has been updated for the May 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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