Water For Elephants was chosen as our Book Club selection for this month and I was quite happy about it as it was a book I had always been intrigued by but had never really been tempted to pick up. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to our Book Club discussion this month so this review will have to be based purely on my thoughts and reactions.
Water For Elephants is set in the USA in the era of the Great Depression in the 1930's. The main character, Jacob Jankowski, is a young man about to sit the final exams for his veterinary studies when he is called home by the sudden and traumatic death of his parents. Jacob's father was the local town vet and Jacob was expecting to slip right into his practice as soon as he had passed his exams - after his sudden death Jacob learns that his father's business was broke and so much money is now owed to the bank that Jacob does not even have a house to live in anymore. It is after this discovery that Jacob literally runs away to the circus. Not that this is his intention - he simply runs away from the life that is no longer waiting to him onto a moving train carriage which turns out to belong to the Benzini Bros Most Spectacular Show On Earth.
The book alternates between the stories of the young Jacob as he makes his way as an animal carer in the circus and an elderly Jacob many years later - now living in an aged care facility and reflecting on what he saw as the greatest time of his life.
The book has plenty of drama and action - a lot of loss and sadness (the scenes where animal cruelty is displayed were actually the most distressing for me even though human beings were also treated extremely badly in many cases).
I found the elderly Jacob more interesting and engaging than the young man - I found myself being disappointed when the book turned away from these sections and I think I would have enjoyed it more if the whole story was told as a memory rather than being told from the present tense. That being said, I did enjoy this book - mainly because it was something different in terms of subject matter to what I normally would read.