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Topic: Water For Elephants

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Subject: Water For Elephants
Date Posted: 11/21/2008 10:40 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2007
Posts: 9,520
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I was hesitant to read the book because I knew there was some rough animal treatment. But I finally took the plunge and was glad I did. What a GREAT book. The ending was awesome.

Date Posted: 11/22/2008 12:51 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
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That's the same reason I haven't read it.  Was it OK?  When an author depicts hurting animals and children I'm done.  I got turned off on Stephen King for that very reason (Needful Things).

Date Posted: 11/22/2008 9:47 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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A great book - I enjoyed it. There is mistreatment of animals.

Date Posted: 11/22/2008 1:22 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 2,717
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I agree, it was a great book.  This was the first I've read by Sara Gruen & look forward to reading her earlier books.  Yes there is animal cruelty & yes it did bother me, but don't think that is what the entire story is about...there is so much more to it than that. 

Date Posted: 11/22/2008 5:35 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2007
Posts: 9,520
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It was not nearly as graphic as I thought it would be, in fact, most of the mistreatment was implied rather than described, and the book dealt mostly with other issues. But it was worth squirming to get to the end.

Date Posted: 11/22/2008 8:37 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,287
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I agree, it was an awesome book!  I thought that the animal cruelty was not too graphic but certainly played a part in the story. 

Give it a try...I thought it was a great read.  I was hesitant at first.  From reading the back cover I thought....hmmm a circus and an old man in a nursing home..what on earth could be interesting about that?  I loved it and have passed it along to several relatives and friends.

Last Edited on: 7/27/09 7:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/30/2008 5:36 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2008
Posts: 1
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This is my first post yea!!!  I read this book last year and just posted it today.  There was some animal cruelty in it but it didn't seem to be gratuitous to me.  It was a page turner and definitely kept my attention.  My book club at church also read it and we had a great discussion of it.

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 9:16 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 116
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Read this book for my book club.  We haven't discussed it yet, but I have talked with one member who shares my absolute LOVE for this book.  We agreed that the ending was a little bit improbable, but at the same time, how else could it have ended??  It's the best book we have read in a while.  I think the mistreatment of animals, whle disturbing, was a genuine picture of how things were at that time in history.

We were wondering, did they really throw people off the trains like that?  That's more disturbing than the animal cruelty.



Date Posted: 2/3/2009 3:50 AM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
Posts: 6,447
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Sara Gruen did extensive research on that time in history. I would assume that it really did happen. I loved the book and if not for PBS would never ever have read it. It's just not the type of book I would normally read.

I do have Riding Lessons on MT TBR. Some day I'll get around to it.

Date Posted: 2/3/2009 9:59 AM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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There is some cruelty, but it's not graphic. I thought the book was fabulous, but it almost seems more like a fantasy to me.

Subject: Water For Elephants
Date Posted: 2/17/2009 8:15 AM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 1
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I loved this book!  If you enjoyed this book, I would also highly recommend "Hannah's Dream"  by Diane Hammond, which is also about an elephant and the older gentleman who loves and cares for her.

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 8:36 AM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,601
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I loved this book also--read it last month. There is far more cruelty to people than to animals in it, but I prefer to read stories that tell what really happened instead of glossing over the bad parts. I really liked the ending--the old Mr. Jankowski was awesome!

For those who don't yet know, Sara Gruen has a new book, Ape House, coming out later this year.


Date Posted: 3/7/2009 1:26 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2008
Posts: 225
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I loved this book. Yes the abuse of Rosie the elephant was very sad and made me tear up a few times but she does get her revenge in the end. A very good story.

Mary (mepom) -
Subject: Sara Gruen
Date Posted: 3/19/2009 9:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 1,192
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If you liked WAter for Elephants,try her earlier books. There are 2 in a series. I was a horse lover as a child and thought these were wonderful.

Riding Lessons,  and Flying Changes

Date Posted: 3/21/2009 2:33 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,804
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Mary, I too loved the first two books.   I read them long ago and never forgot them.   I looked for years for other books by her and finally she wrote Water For Elephants which I also loved.

Date Posted: 3/30/2009 12:58 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 8,411
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This is not a type of book I would normally be interested in, but I LOVED it!  I actually listened to the unabridged version on audio CDs and the two gentlemen that read it were great.   I really enjoyed it.

Date Posted: 4/1/2009 1:14 AM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2005
Posts: 4,490
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It was an OK book....honestly, I really really really enjoyed "Hannah's Dream" much better than the "Water for Elephants" book.


Subject: Hurting Animals
Date Posted: 4/2/2009 10:53 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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I hate reading about animal cruelty just as much as reading about incest. Both are major turn offs and may result in me throwing a book that contains such atrocities as "entertainment" across the room if it gets too bad. That's what I did with "Marley and Me" and "The Thirteenth Tale" which are two books that readers just gush over.

That said, Water for Elephants is on my to read list. If it gets too bad, I'll just toss it--literally!

Subject: Got Sucked Right In
Date Posted: 4/21/2009 10:52 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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I started reading WFE this afternoon and I was sucked right in. The plot begins right away which I appreciate. I love Gruen's description of women, particularly the old women in the old folks home. She has a marvelous knack for catching the little details:

"a gaggle of old ladies is glued to the window at the end of the hall like children or jailbirds. They're spidery and frail,their hair as fine as mist" (6).



Last Edited on: 4/21/09 10:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/24/2009 1:19 AM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2008
Posts: 26,635
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I'm with Mary.  I stumbled on the audio version in the library and picked it up.  I love it!  I'm about 2 hours in and have lots to go,

but suddenly I can't wait to drive somewhere so I can get some book time in!  And I agree that the readers are wonderful.

Date Posted: 4/24/2009 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 3/28/2009
Posts: 55
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This was one of my favorite books I read last year.  Actually some of my favorite parts where the nursing home versus the circus, but I truly loved the whole book.

Subject: Jumped Chapters to Finish It WARNING: SPOILERS INSIDE
Date Posted: 4/25/2009 12:09 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Melodramatic, romance chick lit. Too  bad, Gruen had me hooked in the beginning with the exciting prologue, but she kept beating out cliches with her silver hook.

This book is simply a cheesy romance novel buried in some interesting circus history much like the film Titanic. While reading WFE I kept getting visions of Billy Zane as August, Leonardo Di Capprio as passive aggressive Jacob and of course, Kate Winslet as Marlena.The characters are all cliches: the evil boss with the curled mustache and whip, the naive young hero, sexy, unavailable show girl, and so forth. If this becomes a movie, I hope they put in melodramic soap opera organ music. Dun, dun, dunnnnn

The descriptions are good, but the dialog is just stiff, awful and loaded with, yep, you guessed it-- cliches!  At first I ignored it because after all the first cliches were uttered from the elders at the old folks home. Maybe everyone in assisted living institutions speak in stereotypes. But when Marlena dribbles out:  "I made my bed and now I have to lie in it"  my patience started to wear thin.

That and endless repetition of drinking, regret, drinking, sex, regret,--can we  move ON? And I did, I jumped from chapter 20 to the end.

Marlena gets pregnant?  How predicable. Insert gapping yawn here.

The romance was not believable, really, how much time did they spend together before falling madly in love?

Jacob was brave when it came to the girl, but a puss (pardon my French) when it came to the animals and buddies he supposedly cared for so much.

Ending was contrived and unbelieveable with Jacob running off again to rejoin the circus? Cha-right.!

Rosie the elephant is the most believable character.


Last Edited on: 5/26/09 10:51 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 5/21/2009 11:28 AM ET
Member Since: 7/2/2006
Posts: 40
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I actually loved this book.  I was hesitant to read it, but found that I couldn't put it down. 

Date Posted: 7/26/2009 9:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
Posts: 186
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I LOVED this book. I find it interesting that so many people said they were hesitant to read it. Why is that? I was hesitant, too. The book sat on my shelf for ages. Who wants to read about a circus?

BUT, I was beyond pleasantly suprised. I couldn't put it down. One of the best books I've read in a long time.

Date Posted: 8/4/2009 6:44 PM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2009
Posts: 229
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I really loved this book.  Parts of it were upsetting, but overall I found it engrossing and eye-opening.  I had never really read anything set in a circus, so I found it absolutely fascinating to learn about that world.  And I absolutely loved the elephant!