Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

9781565125605This deeply emotional story unfolds as a series of memories by an old man in a nursing home. They begin with Jacob, a veterinary student who learns his parents have been killed. Devastated, he leaves school and jumps a circus train where, given his background, he is hired to care for the animals. The equestrian director, August, is a charming, generous man, but also brutal to people and the animals, especially the elephant Rosie. Jacob falls in love with August’s wife Marlena who leaves the circus to get away from her husband. Jacob is told he must get August and Marlena back together or members of the circus team will be dropped. Marlena returns. Jacob tries to kill August, but can’t go through with it even when members of the team are fired. Several of these workers return and release the animals, causing a stampede during the performance. In the ensuing panic, Rosie the elephant takes a stake and drives it into August’s head.  This is a magnificent book, but be warned there are graphic scenes of animal cruelty.

4 thoughts on “Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

  1. Hi Vivian! I have this book on my bookshelf and it’s definitely on my list to read soon. Your synopsis is a good one, and I didn’t realise the profound animal cruelty issue in this story. Also thank you so much for following my blog. I’ll drop by your blog again soon!


    1. No problem. I enjoy following good blogs. Yes, I wanted to tell people up front about the animal cruelty. The book is truly wonderful, but it upset my son reading it so it’s not for everyone.


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