I was very restrained and waited until everyone had received their books from Amazon (courtesy of Appliances online – thank you), before I started to read it. I refrained from reading any reviews (particularly with spoilers) on Goodreads, and then I just got stuck in.
I’ll just come out and say it – I loved it! I thought the contrast between the young naive Jacob, and his present day account as an old man was a great mechanism for telling the story. It was almost impossible to believe that they could be the same person.
The descriptions of circus life were so vibrant. The back breaking preparations of moving the whole show from place to place was in stark contrast to the glitz and glamour of the Big Top show. It was fascinating to witness the hierarchy which was ingrained into the circus world. The further away from the animals on the train the higher the perceived status of the person was. Performers kept themselves completely segregated from the circus hands.
Essentially though it was an against all the odds love story. A young, innocent orphan, trying to find his way in the world, falling for the star of the Circus show. Also, their love for the animals. At times it was hard to read about the harsh treatment of the animals, but the ‘redlighting’ (throwing from the moving train) of the unneeded/unwanted men was equally as difficult to digest.
So what did you think? Merry posted a fabulous review here, where she talks about the relationships within the book. Please feel free to link to a review if you have one on your blog in the comments or just go ahead and post your thoughts as is in the comments. I’ve posed a few questions to get a debate going, but there is no obligation to answer any/all. I just thought I’d try this.
- What will you remember most from this novel?
- Did you find it believable that a young outsider would have been welcomed into circus life and flit so easily between the Performers and Kinkers as he did? Was his status as a vet the key to this or was it his character?
- I read some reviews that found the sexual descriptions within the book quite distasteful. Do you think they had a place in portraying the reality of what would have happened within the arena of a travelling show or where they unnecessary?
- Why do you think Jacob was so outraged by Old Man McGuinty claiming to have carried the water for the elephants?
- Do you think the novel had a happy ending – for Jacob & Marlena and then ultimately for Jacob in his final years?
- Does the book make you want to now go and see the recently released film and has anyone already seen it?
Aside from the book, how was the first stab at an online reading group for you? Have you signed up to the Goodreads group so you can see where others are up to? Was it useful having the Twitter list (@CaraFreckles/love-a-book-tweeps) so you knew who else was reading at the same time?
Don’t worry if you haven’t finished as yet, do pop back and leave your views whenever, we’re all crazy busy ;0)
Next up for July is Grace Williams says it Loud by Emma Henderson, which I notice has been picked as a TV Book Club read too.
Greatnews for us as it means that WHSmith have it for bargain price of £3.99 if you haven’t bagged a copy already. I’ll post a fuller introduction to this on Monday after we’ve had a good natter about Water for Elephants.