Sunday, January 04, 2009

What I read: "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen

Perhaps I was taken in by the subject matter or maybe it's because I finished this book on a cold snowy day when I was feeling pretty crappy. Whatever the reason, while I normally seem to have a similar taste in books as my friend Kate, on this occasion, I'm going to have to disagree with her.

I once fell inexplicably in love with someone based solely on his love for horses. And although I've never imagined running away to join the circus, there was that one summer when I dreamed of running off with the rodeo.

So, I do think I was drawn in by the subject matter and the romantic nature of the circus and the characters involved. And maybe the writing itself isn't deserving of gushing praise, but I really liked this book -- in an escapist, love-at-first-sight-even-if-it's-wrong, completely-lost-in-the-moment kind of way.

I'm sure Kate's assessment of the lack of character development is correct, but I still liked the characters. I especially cared about Walter, Queenie, Bobo and Rosie -- not to mention the main characters, who I didn't see as completely "good." They made dumb decisions and were lucky enough to have them turn out OK in the end.

Yes, in the end everything does get wrapped up in a too-neat little package. But that's part of why I thoroughly enjoyed the book. As I've admitted, maybe it's just my state of mind today and the snow falling outside the window and maybe I'll come back to this book at a later day and scoff at my own critique.

But not today. Today I'm awash in the warm glow of cotton candy, sawdust and the receding sound of the circus calliope.

2 comments:

Lisa said...

I'm so glad you liked it because I, too, loved that book. But I don't usually read books for serious, hardcore reasons - just for simple enjoyment and this one filled the bill.

Kate said...

Looking back, I was rather harsh. I didn't hate the book -- not at all -- but was just hoping for something less (what I saw as) "paint by numbers." I'm glad you had such a fun read! My last real pages-fly-by experience was Twilight, so feel free to judge me on that one.

If you like the time period and the carnival theme, you really should try an episode of HBO's Carnivale. There's a supernatural twist to it that is really fun. I can't fine any episodes online right now, but here's the season one trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6gj6Zi6qsM