Water for Elephants Reading Group Review #LoveABook

Water for Elephants book review, reading group, online reading group
First month over, first book is up for review. It’s been lovely seeing the tweets and reports flying around during June about how much everyone was enjoying Water for Elephants.

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?

Grace Williams Says it Loud, reading group, online reading group

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.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
June 30, 2011 - 9:53 am

Helen at Casa Costello - Hi, will come back and discuss the questions later but just wanted to quickly let you know I finished! Review here http://casacostello.com/2011/06/30/book-review-wa… Hx

June 30, 2011 - 10:29 am

Trish - I too have finished the book and enjoyed it immensely. Haven't reviewed it yet but when I do will link up. I'll think of the questions you posed. Puzzled about the sex one – I can't remember them so either I have a poor memory or a liberal attitude!

June 30, 2011 - 2:56 pm

mum in meltdown - Hi there, I have currently be so have been finishing the book Room so have been delayed starting 'Water for elephants'. However when I read the blurb it is a book that I wouldn't naturally 'choose' to read but I am currently about a 1/3 of the way through and am hooked :). So bear with me- and it really goes to show that you can't judge a book by it's cover!!!!
Will update you when I'm finished

Tracy x

June 30, 2011 - 9:30 pm

Lakes Mum - Here's my link http://beckywilloughby.blogspot.com/2011/06/lovea… Loved it so fab choice for first group book. Will have to go shopping for next one..

July 1, 2011 - 11:55 am

Merry - I think the book will stay with me most because of how accurately it conjures up the whole 'show backstage' thing. I was in stage management for a long time; theatre is not really different and that demarcation of performer and hand is very accurate. And people come and go in a funny fashion in those worlds and I thought his inclusion was cleverly managed. They needed him, they accepted him. Part of his acceptance was almost the possibility of being red-lighted. He was a real member of the company. Whether it was likely or not, it was made believable.

I honestly can't think of any sexual content that is distasteful?!?!??!

I'd have been really sad if the book had left him just waiting to die; it needed the feel good of him running away again. He was such a beautiful old man and I loved how angry he got about the other man carrying water for elephants.

I'm so glad I read this – I didn't get enough into the group bit as other stuff was going on but I was really pleased to get the push to read it.

July 5, 2011 - 1:56 pm

FrecklesFamily - Thanks Trish. I read some reviews expressing their distaste at the sexual content before I read the book myself. I got all the way through it before thinking, what offended them? Perhaps we are more liberal than we imagine. The sex scenes weren't particularly out of place or long winded – quite realistic in my opinion.

July 5, 2011 - 1:57 pm

FrecklesFamily - Thanks Tracy, no rush. I don't think any of us would sign up to anything with a deadline – life is too much of a distraction. Glad you're enjoying it so far.

July 5, 2011 - 2:01 pm

FrecklesFamily - The hierarchy was fascinating wasn't it Merry? I'd love to hear more about your theatre life.

I posed the sex scene question as a few reviews I read, stated they didn't care for the sexual content. I got to the end and thought which bit could they have objected to. It was all pretty realistic as far as I was concerned.

I'm glad he didn't just give up in the end and accept his lot, even down to letting someone tell lies in his company.

July 5, 2011 - 2:36 pm

#LoveABook Reading Group July Intro – Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson | Freckles Family - […] in Book Group, Books Thank you everyone who got involved with the first book group last month, Water For Elephants. Overall it was very positive, just one person so far has declared they were underwhelmed by the […]

July 5, 2011 - 2:58 pm

Keris - That's what I thought – what sex?! (Only remember the circling boobs.)

July 18, 2011 - 10:36 pm

July Intro – Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson | Love A Book - […] you everyone who got involved with the first book group last month, Water For Elephants. Overall it was very positive, just one person so far has declared they were underwhelmed by the […]

September 10, 2011 - 8:23 pm

mum in meltdown - Hi so very sorry it has taken me so long to get round to doing this review. I've just posted it and popped a link onto my Review. Loved it by the way and hopefully I can link up with some more of your recommendations. Truly it gets you out of a rut of reading the same old stuff!! Thanks

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