Wednesday, September 3, 2008
A timeless tale indeed. The story takes place during the depression era. After his parents die in a tragic accident, Jacob Jankowski, 23, is left to live out the rest of his life penniless and alone. Abandoning his final exams for veterinary school, Jacob hops aboard a circus train, uncertain of what he seeks. What he stumbles into is the Benzini Brothers Greatest Show On Earth. Though the circus is second-rate at best, it offers Jacob the chance to meet a variety of new people and live a completely different life, unlike any he has ever known.
I really don't want to give too much away. This is by far the BEST book I have read all year. The Benzini Brothers Circus offers a variety of multidimensional, colorful characters, some you will love and others you will hate. The journey Jacob takes throughout the novel is amazing. Gruen definitely did her research on the era and the circus. I read several rave reviews on this book a while back when it first came out, and never really gave it chance, not being interested in the circus and whatnot. I wish I would have picked it up sooner. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is willing to get lost in a truly amazing story.
Also, if you can get a hold of Water for Elephants on audio book, I would recommend to digest the story that way best. Though the reader still goes on the same journey, the audio book offers, what I think, is a better idea of the type of characters Gruen wanted to portray. I read the book half-and-half, half in the car on audio and half in the novel itself. I was completely absorbed in it. Whichever form you chose, don't miss out. I will definitely read this book again.