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Jillian12
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Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

With all the hype about Robert Pattinson's new movie, Water for Elephants, I decided to go ahead and read the book before I see the movie!  I'm just starting the book, and I immediately fell in love with the main character, Jacob.  I loved it when he outed the other old guy at the table for saying he, "Carried water for elephants."  Jacob is fiesty, and I hope that I have that much spunk when "I am ninety.  Or niney-three.  One or the other." 

 

The story is set during the Great Depression.  It touched me how the author describes, during Jacobs college years, his struggle with not wanting to be a virgin vs. his desire to maintain some moral dignity by opting to not participate when his friends were paying a girl to let them have a turn, one after the other.  We always think that it our parents/grandparents didn't go through what we have gone through.  This window into the past seems to beg to differ.    

 

I'm at the part where he has just joined the circus, after learning that his parents have died and left him with nothing.  So far, I'm hooked.   

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dhaupt
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Thanks Jillian, you're making me want to get the book and I'm anxious to see what your feelings are the farther along you get.

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Peppermill
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

 


Jillian12 wrote:

With all the hype about Robert Pattinson's new movie, Water for Elephants, I decided to go ahead and read the book before I see the movie!  I'm just starting the book, and I immediately fell in love with the main character, Jacob.  I loved it when he outed the other old guy at the table for saying he, "Carried water for elephants."  Jacob is fiesty, and I hope that I have that much spunk when "I am ninety.  Or niney-three.  One or the other." 

 

The story is set during the Great Depression.  It touched me how the author describes, during Jacobs college years, his struggle with not wanting to be a virgin vs. his desire to maintain some moral dignity by opting to not participate when his friends were paying a girl to let them have a turn, one after the other.  We always think that it our parents/grandparents didn't go through what we have gone through.  This window into the past seems to beg to differ.    

 

I'm at the part where he has just joined the circus, after learning that his parents have died and left him with nothing.  So far, I'm hooked.   


It's mostly a delightful story.  There is a discussion of it from several years ago somewhere on these boards or in B&N archives.  You might want to try to retrieve it once you have read the book.  I wasn't as enthusiastic as many of the other readers, but after these many years, it still belongs among my "good read" books.  I hope to get to the movie one of these days, but my theatre time recently has been caught up in the simulcasts from the Met.  (Even if someone thinks opera is not for them, I highly encourage catching one next season or an encore this summer, if nothing else, just for the experience of something different. Il Trovatore by Verdi was sold out Saturday at the theatre I like to attend for its large screen, good sound, and comfortable seats.) 

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Jillian12
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I finished the book!  It was a really good read!  I enjoyed the story, but I didn't feel like it was a book that was epic!  I especially loved how they went back and forth between the elderly Jacob and his memories of his days in the circus. 

 

As with many stories I have read that highlight a love interest, I didn't feel like there was enough development of the relationship to justify the lengths Jacob would go to help her.  I could see that they were attracted to one another, but I didn't feel like the author detailed a relational foundation that warrented a deep and abiding love initially.  Maybe I'm just in la la land!  :-)  However, by the end of the book, after they had crossed so many obstacles together, I could see the investment that both of them had in the relationship!  (Of course, by then there was a baby!) 

 

In the back of the book there are book discussion questions.  One of the questions asks the reader to detail whom he/she thought killed August in the beginning of the book.  Then it asks how that builds that story. 

 

I was convinced that it was Marlena that killed August.  I never doubted or questioned it.  I was completely shocked to discover that it was Rosie that actually killed him.  I feel that she was equally justified in her actions as Marlena would have been.  I felt as if Rosie received a bit of vindication for August's mistreatment of her.  Rosie's experience with August almost mirrored that of Marlena's with August.  When he was getting what he wanted from each of them, they were everything to him.  A jewel in his crown, so to speak.  When he was disappointed, they felt his wrath.  I am glad that Rosie disposed of that hurdle for Marlena and Jacob.

 

For me, I don't know if the initial allusion to the murder built any suspense, since I really just assumed it was Marlena that killed August from the beginning.  It definitely created an "OMG" moment when the truth was revealed!   

 

What did you think? 

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Peppermill
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Jillian -- if you are going to reveal "spoilers" on these boards, e.g., especially surprise endings to plot buildups, please indicate that at the beginning of your post so that readers here who "don't want to know" can avoid that particular message.

 

Thanks!

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Jillian12
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Registered: ‎05-24-2010

Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

@ Peppermill - oops! Sorry! :-( Hopefully they wiil read your post first and avoid mine! I will definitely keep that in mind for future posts!
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Jillian12
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

There's a spoiler alert in this post by Jillian12!  I can't delete it, so hopefully you'll catch this and keep away from it if you haven't finished the book!  Sorry! 

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dhaupt
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Hi Jillian I'm glad you liked the book it's one that I haven't read yet so I only briefly scanned your thoughts, no problem with revealing too much as we were all once new here on these forums and have all done this believe me. :smileyhappy: Thanks for the future spoiler alerts, that's all we need. Let us know what other novels you liked too and thanks for visiting General Fiction we look forward to your visits again.
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PollyAnnaPH
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I've read this book twice for different book clubs.  I read it the first time, several years ago, as a book about a young man who joined the circus.  I got so much more out of it the second time around when I viewed it as a book about an old man and his recollections.  Plus I think a second read always reveals more to me when I'm not devouring it to see what happens next. 

 

As for the movie, it's pretty well done.  They don't spend much time on "old Jacob" but it's still worth watching.  I've read some of the author's research and it's sad to think about how much of this story actually happened to someone, somewhere.

Pam
The early bird may get the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.
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dhaupt
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


PollyAnnaPH wrote:

I've read this book twice for different book clubs.  I read it the first time, several years ago, as a book about a young man who joined the circus.  I got so much more out of it the second time around when I viewed it as a book about an old man and his recollections.  Plus I think a second read always reveals more to me when I'm not devouring it to see what happens next. 

 

As for the movie, it's pretty well done.  They don't spend much time on "old Jacob" but it's still worth watching.  I've read some of the author's research and it's sad to think about how much of this story actually happened to someone, somewhere.


Thanks for that PollyAnna, I am beginning to see the real value of re-reading.

thanks for posting

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Deltadawn
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I have to agree - this is a great book! I am looking forward to seeing the movie.

And yes, I also agree that whenever I read a book that I have really enjoyed more than once I find that I gain more insight and perspective and enrichment.

I am interested in reading Sara Gruen's latest book, Ape House.

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A_G_D
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I just bought it this weekend. I keep hearing how good it is, so I'm curious to see for myself. It's on my TBR list :smileyhappy:

Andreea
"Books are the quitest and most constant of friends; they are the most accesible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." -Charles Eliot
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kathylcsw
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I started it this week and am about 1/2 way through it now. So far I don't get the hype. I keep waiting for it to pick up and get good. I am forcing myself to finish at this point because I am just not enjoying it that much.

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Peppermill
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

[ Edited ]

 


kathylcsw wrote:

I started it this week and am about 1/2 way through it now. So far I don't get the hype. I keep waiting for it to pick up and get good. I am forcing myself to finish at this point because I am just not enjoying it that much.


Are you referring to Water for Elephants  or to Ape House ?  

 

I read WfE a good while back, and while I enjoyed it, I wasn't that excited about it. as so many were at the time.  But, if I would quit going to opera simulcasts, I might like to see the movie while it is still in the theatres.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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kathylcsw
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


Peppermill wrote:

 


kathylcsw wrote:

I started it this week and am about 1/2 way through it now. So far I don't get the hype. I keep waiting for it to pick up and get good. I am forcing myself to finish at this point because I am just not enjoying it that much.


Are you referring to Water for Elephants  or to Ape House ?  

 

I read WfE a good while back, and while I enjoyed it, I wasn't that excited about it. as so many were at the time.  But, if I would quit going to opera simulcasts, I might like to see the movie while it is still in the theatres.


Peppermill since the title of the thread is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen I guess I didn't realize any other book was being discussed. After looking back through the responses I didn't see any reference to Ape House so now I am thoroughly confused! Not that it takes much!

 

****Spoiler Alert******

I finished Water for Elephants and for me it never got better. It was an OK book but not great and if I had it to do over again I probably would not have read it at all. Now I am going to pull out my soapbox and rant about one part of the book that especially bothered me.

 

August WAS NOT a paranoid schizophrenic. Contrary to popular belief that keeps being reinforced by television, movies, and books it does not mean split personality nor does it have any features suggestive of having split personality.

 

It actually refers to the "fractured mind" and is based on an inability to process information across various parts of the brain. It also describes the inability to distinguish reality from hallucinations/delusions. People with schizophrenia do not go back and forth from being OK to being psychotic. Once they start losing touch with reality it is a downward spiral and gets worse until medication is adjusted. They don't just "snap out of it."

 

If I had to diagnose August based on the description in the book I would start by ruling out Bipolar Disorder vs. Borderline Personality Disorder. These would better describe the rapid mood changes and anger issues. It would also better describe his relationship with Marlene and fear that she would abandon him. Further people with schizophrenia tend to not develop deep, intimate relationships. It is another aspect of the disease.

 

There is also the possibility that he did not have a mental illness at all. He may have had issues controlling anger or just been a controlling, mean person.

 

Just to let you know I write this based on almost 15 years working with chronically mentally ill people as a crisis counselor, therapist, and inpatient psych social worker. I get angry over and over at how the mentally ill (esp. schizophrenic) are so falsely portrayed in the media. They are actually more likely to be a victim of crime and violence than a perpetrator.

 

Ok I will now quietly put away my soapbox.

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dhaupt
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


kathylcsw wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

 


kathylcsw wrote:

I started it this week and am about 1/2 way through it now. So far I don't get the hype. I keep waiting for it to pick up and get good. I am forcing myself to finish at this point because I am just not enjoying it that much.


Are you referring to Water for Elephants  or to Ape House ?  

 

I read WfE a good while back, and while I enjoyed it, I wasn't that excited about it. as so many were at the time.  But, if I would quit going to opera simulcasts, I might like to see the movie while it is still in the theatres.


Peppermill since the title of the thread is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen I guess I didn't realize any other book was being discussed. After looking back through the responses I didn't see any reference to Ape House so now I am thoroughly confused! Not that it takes much!

 

****Spoiler Alert******

I finished Water for Elephants and for me it never got better. It was an OK book but not great and if I had it to do over again I probably would not have read it at all. Now I am going to pull out my soapbox and rant about one part of the book that especially bothered me.

 

August WAS NOT a paranoid schizophrenic. Contrary to popular belief that keeps being reinforced by television, movies, and books it does not mean split personality nor does it have any features suggestive of having split personality.

 

It actually refers to the "fractured mind" and is based on an inability to process information across various parts of the brain. It also describes the inability to distinguish reality from hallucinations/delusions. People with schizophrenia do not go back and forth from being OK to being psychotic. Once they start losing touch with reality it is a downward spiral and gets worse until medication is adjusted. They don't just "snap out of it."

 

If I had to diagnose August based on the description in the book I would start by ruling out Bipolar Disorder vs. Borderline Personality Disorder. These would better describe the rapid mood changes and anger issues. It would also better describe his relationship with Marlene and fear that she would abandon him. Further people with schizophrenia tend to not develop deep, intimate relationships. It is another aspect of the disease.

 

There is also the possibility that he did not have a mental illness at all. He may have had issues controlling anger or just been a controlling, mean person.

 

Just to let you know I write this based on almost 15 years working with chronically mentally ill people as a crisis counselor, therapist, and inpatient psych social worker. I get angry over and over at how the mentally ill (esp. schizophrenic) are so falsely portrayed in the media. They are actually more likely to be a victim of crime and violence than a perpetrator.

 

Ok I will now quietly put away my soapbox.


kathy, hmm I responded to your post and it seemed to have disappeared and why I am surprised by that, seems the famous B&N gremlins have been visiting again.

Thanks for your post about the novel, in my post which is no longer here i mentioned that I would love to know why you didn't like it and you answered my questions. Also the famous disappearing post mentioned that there are some books out there that were touted to be "the best" and I just shook my head when I read them and said, really. So I do know where you're coming from. Oh and just so you know I love soapboxes and use mine regularly so please keep yours dusted and bring it out once and awhile. 

thanks for posting and for being honest in your feelings about the novel

I hope I see you again soon here.

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Peppermill
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

In this sequence, it is Delta Dawn who refers to Ape House  .  I couldn't be quite sure whether the next posts were referring back to her post or to the message head, hence I asked.

 

Sorry for the confusion.

 

I found the comments here interesting.  I haven't been following the hype.  But, I do remember the positive response WfE got on these boards a few years ago.  I felt drummed out for even suggesting being tepid.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Peppermill
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Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


Peppermill wrote:

In this sequence, it is Delta Dawn who refers to Ape House  .  I couldn't be quite sure whether the next posts were referring back to her post or to the message head, hence I asked.

 

Sorry for the confusion.

 

I found the comments here interesting.  I haven't been following the hype.  But, I do remember the positive response WfE got on these boards a few years ago.  I felt drummed out for even suggesting being tepid.


http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Fiction-General-Discussion/Great-Read-Water-for-Elephants/m-p...

 

I think there is a still earlier discussion which I don't find right now, but this one will give you a sense of the enthusiasm some have had.

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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A_G_D
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I finally started it last night..:smileyhappy: So far so good...

Andreea
"Books are the quitest and most constant of friends; they are the most accesible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." -Charles Eliot
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seasanddollar
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Re: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I finished this book about a month ago, and I really thought it was a great book.  It never lost my attention.