Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

No. of pages: 418
Rating: 10/10

Synopsis: When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer.

Beautifully written, Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.

Review: Set in the Great Depression of the 30's, a disaster out of the blue sends Jacob Jankowski out of his normal everyday life, and jumping onto a random passing train. The train happens to belong to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show On Earth circus, and his life changes forever in an instant. Joining the circus as a vet, Jacob experiences what it truly is to live...

I think the word for this book is enchanting. Although very gritty and brutal, it holds you in a thrall with it's fantastic storyline from beginning to end. I absolutely loved Jacob as a character, he seemed very real in that he was incredibly naive and innocent at the beginning, and then hardened as the book went on. My other favourites were Marlena and Walter, and I enjoyed seeing how Jacob's relationships with them both evolved throughout the book. The storyline itself I found quite fascinating, I know absolutely nothing about how a circus runs, and the author did a lot of research before writing the novel, so it all seems incredibly realistic. This is the perfect story - a great background, fantastic characters, a bit of friendship and some romance to top it off. It's just a lovely and enjoyable tale and I would heartily recommend it to everyone.
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