Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen turned out to be a very good quick and lively read. When the book club met last week the consensus was that on a scale of 1-10 this book would rank at about an 8. It was not the best book we had ever read but still represented that time in our history from an unusual view point. The Depression for the group here at Orenco Station was not a part of our personal life but most of the ladies were the children of parents that endured the hard and unforgiving times.
We talked about other books written about the era. John Steinbeck came up as well as Annie Proux. We did not think that this book compared with those written by the two authors mentioned. However, there was a feeling that Gruen has come very close. The author had mentioned the fact that the main character in the book told a story that loosely followed the biblical tale of Jacob in the book of Genisis. Steinbeck has used this method in the writing of his books and maybe that was why we found ourselves comparing the material for the books. It should be noted that one member mentioned East of Eden. "I could not lay it down and wanted it to last longer" was her feeling about the Steinbeck classic. Water for Elephants did not leave anyone feeling that way.
So if you feel like running away with the circus, symbolically or in reality, Water for Elephants will be for you. It is a safe read for your neighborhood book club and there can be some lively discussion about the content.
By the way, one of the members said she would only give the book a 6 rating. She just didn't feel challenged enough. She was not alone in that opinion.