Water for Elephants

Some friends and I have started a book club and are planning to read 1 book per month, then discuss at the end of the month.  I’ve never been a part of a reading club before, but as I understand it, you read and book then meet at a planned time for discussion.  Several of us have off-hour work schedules, and some of us even live out of state, so this club’s meetings will be over Google Hangout, which is a video-chat program built into Google Plus.  Our first book was Water for Elephants

This book starts out with an elderly man in a retirement home during present day.  Yet again, we have another book written in the First Person.  I seem to be reading a lot of these books lately, it must be a new trend or something.  Either way, the protagonist tells the story of his days as a Circus Veterinarian in the early 1930s.

The story starts like most stories, but I admit that the writer’s style has me intrigued.  The author, a female, does a good job of explaining the intricate details of the Circus scene during the post-depression period.  At the end of the book, she explains the research she did from books she read that deal with that time period in history.  So you get an authentic feel of what it was actually like to be in a circus at that time period.  There were obvious hardships and you can tell right away that the civil liberties of people living in those days wasn’t something that anyone cared much about.

I enjoyed the read, overall.  It was a good story, that I was afraid of turning into a sappy romance, but it never really did.  There were some romantic themes about “getting the girl” in the book, of course, but every story worth telling has that theme.  Or so says Spider-man, at least.

There were 2 or 3 sex scenes in the book that I could have done without.  I know that is popular these days, and it helps to sell books, but for me it doesn’t really add anything to the story.  And I am sorry, but describing a sexual scene in great detail isn’t “romantic”  This book didn’t go into too much detail, but it had more than I an used to reading, simply because I’m generally not interested in that genre of fiction.  While these scenes didn’t add anything to the story, they also didn’t deter me from wanting to continue with the book.  Overall, I would acquiesce that the book was well-balanced.

The ending came a bit too abruptly, in my opinion.  There were no “loose ends” to speak of, but I would have liked to see more details about where a couple of the main characters ended up.  Amazon tells me that the paperback edition of the book is 350 pages (I read the Kindle edition).  I think the author could have easily added 25-50 pages to the book, mostly to the ending, and it still would have been a great read.

I’d recommend this book to people who like historical fiction.  It isn’t for youth or kids, however.  But the story itself is a good one that makes you cheer for the protagonist and hate the villain.  All in a good day’s work.

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