Sunday, March 23, 2008

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

This week the book is Water for Elephants: A Novel, by Sara Gruen. I was moderately intrigued by this book when I first saw it on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, but I didn't purchase the book or add it to my reading list until my book club chose it for the March discussion. I am very glad that this was our choice! This was a quick, enjoyable read. I was very quickly sucked into Jacob's story of a few short, but defining months of his life. This was told as his reflections on life and death as he knows that he must be getting close to the end of his years. Jacob sounds like a wonderful, prickly man with so much history to tell and share yet he feels left behind by his family and life. Every aspect of his life was shaped by a chance encounter with the traveling circus after his own family disaster.

Ms. Gruen did a great job of using (but not overusing) foreshadowing and other writerly techniques. Her research into circuses of the 1930s led to a stroke of unexpected realism. The interworking of a bit of biblical symbolism in the use of aspects of the story of Jacob was just a bonus. My knowledge of the Bible certainly isn't that great, but I did take the time to search out some of the story before the book club discussion. Again, I am glad that I did.

Throughout my reading of the book I felt a delightful (but probably completely inaccurate) connection with the book. Mr. Engineer's uncle is a retired veterinarian and definitely a crusty character. I couldn't help but think that Jacob and Mr. Engineer's uncle probably shared some views and would have most definitely enjoyed swapping tales over a pint.

No comments: