Not particularly fond of circus themes, I was reluctant to read this book and walked by it so many times in the bookstore. Determined to read it before watching the movie, I finally picked it up to take on vacation with me a few months ago and found it to be absolutely amazing! I was recently surprised again at how well the movie was able to capture the intensely creative written work. Everything about the movie, from the supporting cast, to the sound effects, and the locations magnificently brought all the colors and sounds of Gruen’s carefully crafted work to life.
Jacob Jankowski is just about to take his final exams to become a vet when his parents die and he learns they have used their entire life savings sending him to an Ivey League vet school. Distraught, he wanders into the night and jumps on a passing train only to discover he has boarded the Benzini Brothers Circus train. Suddenly thrust into the circus culture, Jacob feels a sense of duty to care for the animals. Once it is learned he is a vet, he is put in charge of all the animals, and he does his best to protect them from the cruelty of the circus’ Ringleader, August. Of course, he gets much more than he bargained for when he falls in love with August’s wife, Marlena, who is the main attraction at the circus, riding horses and elephants.
Based on true events, Water for Elephants provided a glimpse into a world with a story that could be enjoyed by all. Pattinson was the perfect actor to play a character who is both reserved and yet steadfast in decisions revolving around the animals. I was especially impressed with the scenes that depicted the circus acts, not only because the costumes were so amazing, but because it seemed so real. At times, I really felt I was watching circus performers! The romance between Marlena and Jacob was cut slightly too much in the movie, which resulted in less build up for the ending. But, overall, the story was very well told and enjoyable. I highly recommend the book and movie.