Water for Elephants
In essence this is clichéd love triangle where a guy meets a girl. She plays a damsel in distress and the guy rescues her from her evil husband. I know this doesn’t in the least sound new or exciting but I have to confess that an unusual setting and a great narrative is all it takes to make even such a clichéd story line gripping and entertaining.
This story is set in the post war depression period in the US. Jacob who is a medical student at Cornell university – studying to be a vet. He looses his parents in a car accident and doesn’t have a home or money for tuition. In a moment of daze he leaves he climbs onto a train which happens to be the Benzini Brothers circus train. Soon he finds himself as the vet for the exotic animals there.
The circus here reveals something dark and grim under the glamorous and entertaining appearance. When the number of people on the train grew more than its capacity or if some employees suffered from incurable diseases due to contamination, the solution was to simply execute them by pushing them off the moving train.
Another classic example for this is Marlena’s marriage to August. On the exterior their marriage is rosy and picture perfect. August seems charming, caring and more. But on looking a little deeper you realize the reality isn’t quite this. Marlena suffers in the relationship as August is a schizophrenic – she eloped from home for the charming August who in reality did not exist. Not having a home to go back to, Marlena silently suffered in this dysfunctional relationship. And then Jacob comes along and there is an instant attraction and rescues her.
Overall, this is a good read. But like I said earlier the main story line is not unheard of but the setting in a larger than life post-war US circus is a winner. Another positive is the narration – the whole story is narrated by Jacob who is in his 90s and in a nursing home. A casual summer read – not something that will knock your socks off.
Overall verdict : 3.5/5