Sunday, February 24, 2008

Circus Life

“Water for Elephants” is Sara Gruen’s new novel about a traveling circus in the depression era. There aren’t many novels written about the circus and Sara Gruen has done a fantastic job on researching life in a circus in the 1930s. The details of the circus life are fascinating and also horrifying. The cruelty, to the animals and especially to the people working behind the scenes, was horrific and sad. It is a compelling epic and love story that keeps the reader interested.

The author uses the technique of flashbacks between the present life of the narrator, Jacob Jankowsky, in a nursing home and his past life in the circus, 70 odd years ago. Often this technique propels the story and keeps the reader mesmerized by the connect between the past and the present. Somehow, this did not work for me in this novel. I did not enjoy the chapters with the narrator in the nursing home. I consistently wanted the author to return to the story at hand. I think the story could have worked without the flashback technique. But “Water for Elephants” is a well told story. The factual details about circus life in the 1930s, and the characters, make the story interesting and unique. It is such a surprising pleasure to read a novel and learn about a way of life that you did not know existed!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you completely on the story having merit and real interest on it's own. The flashback device was not needed, but what great storytelling!