Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Water For Elephants: A Spectacle!

Sara Gruen's "Water For Elephants" is a must read. As I read this engrossing novel on the beach, I couldn't fully take in the sand and waves surrounding me. Rather, a 1930's depression-era circus spectacle encased my mind.  Gruen has a very developed storyline with realistic characters that grabs reader attention.

What really interests me is the fact that Gruen, before writing this novel, hadn't an ounce of insight into the genre of circus life. She says, "It's true. I had no history whatsoever. No interest, no connection to anyone associated with the circus." She doesn't even remember attending a circus. But with extensive research and interest, she made it happen. I, myself, have never attended a circus, but after reading this novel, I feel as though I have. Job well done Gruen!

This piece of work is uniquely written. Page after page, you don't really know where you are going with the story. It is full of whimsical elements and romanticism. Loads of drama and entertainment. It fills you with wonderment and amazement of the grandeur circus life. I totally fell in love with this book. I'm hoping one day I could use it to teach in my future classrooms!

Unlike many fans, I have not yet seen the movie production. I avoided seeing the previews and even knowing who the characters were. As soon as I finished the book, I ran to my computer to scope the trailer out. (I have to admit a friend almost completely spilled the beans, telling me that Marlena is played by Reese Witherspoon, I stopped her immediately--and I couldn't get that image out of my head!) As for Jacob, I really have to say I am shocked that it is Robert Pattinson. I totally pictured a young version of Leonardo DiCaprio or even Jake Gyllenhaal. For the most part, I think I agree with Witherspoon as Marlena, but I also pictured Rachel McAdams, Kristen Bell, and even a Penelepe Cruz...Perhaps those are strange characters in your mind, but the best part of literature is that you can use your own imagination to piece together a visual image.

Some of my favorite quotes & parts of the novel:

-"I roll onto my side and stare out the venetian blinds at the blue sky beyond. After a few minutes I'm lulled into a sort of peace. The sky, the sky--same as it always was."
-"Sometimes I think if I had to choose between an ear of corn or making love to a woman, I'd choose the corn."
-"It's just a crazy damned life, that's all.."
-"Age is a terrible thief. Just when you're getting the hang of life, it knocks your legs out from under you and stoops your back. It makes you ache and muddies your head and silently spreads cancer throughout your spouse."
-When August tricks Jacob into putting his arm into the toothless lion! I laughed aloud for a while!
-The fact that Uncle Al wanted a bull so he could say, "Hold your horses! Here come the elephants."
-Jacob's aged character is a riot. Totally realistic, but lovable.
-The ending was perfect to me

"Life is the ticket to the most spectacular show on earth."

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