I finally got around to reading Water for Elephants after long thinking it had an interesting title.
The book is difficult to characterize. On one hand, the author did a lot of research into circuses and the gritty details of circus life. Many of the incidents recorded in the story actually happened in real life. I found those parts interesting.
On the other hand, in between the interesting circus stories are a lot of gritty details that seemed gratuitously graphic, and at times I found the love story a little thin and difficult to get into.
I do think the author was bold to use a male main character. I have to imagine that is difficult. I also thought her decision to use a frame of the main character as an old man was interesting. Actually I liked the character as an old man much better than the character as a young man – the old man seemed more original.
In sum, this book is all right, if you can get past the thin and gratuitous parts and just focus on the old man and the circus. It’s a fast read, and not taxing, so maybe it would be good if you’re hunting a light read with some unique historical details.
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