Saturday, September 29, 2012

Great read:

I've just finished Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants and, I must say, I really enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised when I began the novel -- the narrator is a 93-year-old man and his voice intrigued me. Then, in chapter two, the story slips into the narrator's life in the circus, some 70 years in the past. I read a couple of chapters more, but my resolve to continue began to falter for two reasons: I don't particularly care one way or the other about the circus, and I don't much like history-related stuff -- I prefer forward, futuristic settings to a replay of things that have already taken place.

I picked the book up again on a lazy Saturday afternoon and, by chapter six, realized I'd turned a corner. I was invested. The story is compelling (even for those of us who have lived an obviously deprived childhood because we didn't attend a circus), the characters are likeable and flawed and real. But the prose is the kicker -- it ties the story, setting, and characters all together. It's straightforward and elegant all at once, and I found it utterly charming.

Turns out that Baraboo, WI, winter home of the Ringling Brothers circus, is just 145 miles northwest of where I live. Who knew?

Add this book to your must-read list.

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