Group Read (August): Water for Elephants

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Group Read (August): Water for Elephants

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Jul 29, 2014, 10:01am

Welcome to the group read of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen! I've had this book on my shelves for a couple years at this point, so I'm excited to finally read it. I've actually seen the movie already, so it will be interesting to see how the book compares.

Jul 29, 2014, 10:08am

Haven't seen the movie, I was waiting to read the book first. Glad that I finally have the incentive to do it!

Jul 30, 2014, 12:50am

I've heard great things about the book.

Jul 31, 2014, 4:37pm

It will be interesting to read this because I recently read Bad Elephant Far Stream as a member giveaway. That is written from the point of view of a 19th century circus elephant. I think it will be interesting to get the human angle, although the period is a bit later.

Ago 2, 2014, 2:05pm

Count me in! I plan to start reading my copy this afternoon.

Ago 4, 2014, 1:21pm

I have finished Water For Elephants. What a story! I loved it so much more than I was expecting. The approach to story telling reminded me of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, another story I loved. I will wait for everyone else to catch up before I go into any discussion details.

Ago 5, 2014, 7:23pm

>6 lkernagh: I can't wait to get to that one! Right now I'm trudging my way through Phillip Roth for the American Author challenge. I've got a Catherine Aird for the MysteryCAT up after that one. Hopefully when I get back to work on the 13th, I can pick up Gruen's novel.

Ago 5, 2014, 9:09pm

I've actually seen the movie already, so it will be interesting to see how the book compares.

>1 christina_reads: - Oh dear. I watched - or I should say, I attempted to watch - the movie adaptation yesterday and I have to say, I turned it off after 30 minutes. I guess I am too much of a purist. I just did not like all the edits they made adapting the book for the big screen and I really cannot believe they actually merged the characters of August and Big Al into one character. I can only assume that they were trying to reach the audience that did not read the book. I really must stop watching movies after I have read the book. I am just too darn critical.

Ago 5, 2014, 10:10pm

>8 lkernagh: Well, I wasn't hugely impressed with the movie, so I'm glad to hear that you liked the book a lot more! I'm hoping the same is true for me.

Ago 7, 2014, 1:11pm

I am looking forward to reading Water for Elephants this month. I have placed an order for it at my library and wouldn't you know it, I am 4th on 7 copies. Hopefully I will get it in a week or so and be able to get started on it soon as Lori's review has me chomping at the bit!

Ago 7, 2014, 9:10pm

>10 DeltaQueen50: Good luck!

I am going out of town this weekend to visit my grandmother -- who just happens to live near the beach! :) I'll definitely be putting Water for Elephants in my beach bag.

Ago 12, 2014, 11:56am

So I did end up reading Water for Elephants this weekend. I liked it well enough, but I have to say I didn't love it. For some reason I just didn't become very invested in the story or characters. Neither young Jacob nor Marlena seemed like a real person to me, although I did like and sympathize with Jacob more as an old man.

I do think the setting of a traveling circus in the 1930s was interesting, and some of my favorite parts of the book were the insights into daily life for these people, from the hierarchy of the circus workers to the amount of food necessary to keep the circus going. I also liked the character of Walter the dwarf. One thing that I really disliked was the amount of graphic depictions of sex acts, such as the "cooch tent," Walter masturbating, etc. They didn't add anything to the story and basically just grossed me out. So yeah, mixed feelings on this one, and not a book I need to keep on my shelves.

Ago 12, 2014, 9:27pm

I have already sent my copy on to a new home. The older Jacob is my favorite character - along with Rosie! - and I agree, it is more the sense and feel of the depression era setting that really makes this a wonderful read for me. I can see why some parts would not appeal to some readers and I wonder if they sanitized these bits in the movie. Remember, I stopped watching only 30 minutes in! What really fascinated me was how the circus, with so many workers and so much physical property that needs to be set up, taken down and transported to the next location, worked with more exacting precision than a finely crafted timepiece... and yet, they would be diverted from their planned route strictly on the whim of Big Al. I can believe it, and yet, at the same time, it completely defies belief, if that makes any sense.

Ago 13, 2014, 11:39am

>13 lkernagh: It's funny, the setting was my favorite part of both this book and The Night Circus! Looks like I'll have to keep trying to find a book about the circus that I really love.

Ago 21, 2014, 4:45am

Finished. Yes, a very good book.

Both this and the one I mentioned in >4 MarthaJeanne: are based on some of the same material. I found this much more satisfying.

Ago 28, 2014, 3:13pm

I finally have a copy of Water For Elephants and will start it later today. I should be able to get it finished before the month ends. I was surprised to see that my copy has pictures!

Ago 28, 2014, 9:25pm

I finished.. but I was a bit disappointed. I didn't think it was as great as I had been told.

Ago 29, 2014, 10:03am

>17 cyderry: Agreed! I remember when it first came out...everyone was telling me, "Oh, it's so amazing, you'll LOVE it!" And it was a good enough read, but I definitely wasn't as impressed as I expected to be.

Ago 29, 2014, 11:41am

I think I am one of the few people on earth who really didn't have much prior information on this book. I haven't seen or even heard much about the movie either. I've only gotten the first five or so chapters under my belt but so far the story is interesting and drawing me in.

Ago 30, 2014, 11:50am

I've finished Water For Elephants, I loved the story but didn't buy into the romance. I found Marlena rather colorless and never understood the attraction between her and Jacob, other than a way out for her. The circus setting, the secondary characters and the animals (especially Rosie) were excellent. I ended up giving this book a rating of 3.6 ★.