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noberly
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎11-26-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

I'm living in the Cleveland area. I happened to be looking for a good book and asked the employees at Joseph Beth Booksellers what they might recommend. They recommended this book and let me know the author was going to be there and that they could get it signed for me. (I was going to be on vacation. Wonderful book store) In any case, when I first started to read it, it was a little slow. But, as I got through the first chapter or so, I really enjoyed it. I particularly liked the flowing back and forth of the "Jacobs".
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Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Hi everyone,

I'm Carmen, a midwestern working mom. I purchased WFE several months ago, but alas, it sat in my basket of books to read getting dusty while I worked through the Potter series. When I saw B&N was about to begin discussion of this book I decided to join up and wipe the dust off my book.
As I glanced thru it, I noticed that the book club questions in the back of the book referred to the parallels of the biblical Jacob to the Jacob in WFE and coming off of The Red Tent I felt it would be apropro to compare Jacobs' while the former is fresh in my mind.
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
Inspired Correspondent
Wrighty
Posts: 1,762
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Hi all, I'm Debbie from NY state. I have three teenagers and love to read. I'm usually bouncing around these clubs somewhere. I had heard about this book before and didn't think it sounded like something I would enjoy. Some friends here recommended it and I was going to read it a few months ago but didn't get the chance. When this club came along I grabbed the book and I'm loving it. I still have about a third to go and I am very grateful to everyone who has been careful about spoilers. I hate to have the story ruined, and this is a good one! I'm looking forward to this discussion and happy to see so many familiar and new "faces" joining in.
New User
lostat40
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

i live in the northwoods of wisconsin where winters are long and books are my best friend. i read this book when it first came out and loved it and recomend it frequently
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself


lostat40 wrote:
i live in the northwoods of wisconsin where winters are long and books are my best friend. i read this book when it first came out and loved it and recommend it frequently
Welcome! May you enjoy your visits here. (I once lived in MN and have friends yet in WI, I am now in NJ.) Hope you enjoy your visits here. We look forward to your insights, reflections, side bars (Gab Tent), ....
"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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maybemd
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎08-09-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself



Litagent wrote:
I am a literary agent who reads for a living. I can be a tough critic. Overall, I quite enjoyed Water For Elephants. It is a compelling story, meticulously researched. I loved the characters and the information about the life in a traveling circus. However, I felt that the preface to the novel was a bit of a cheap trick. Gruen is clearly a talented writer, and I think she could have accomplished the same emotional surprise with more integrity.




Have to agree with Litagent. Gruen should have found a better way to open her story. Did she not trust the first scenes, in college, to hold the reader?
"Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing."
- Margaret Chittenden
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself


maybemd wrote:


Litagent wrote:
I am a literary agent who reads for a living. I can be a tough critic. Overall, I quite enjoyed Water For Elephants. It is a compelling story, meticulously researched. I loved the characters and the information about the life in a traveling circus. However, I felt that the preface to the novel was a bit of a cheap trick. Gruen is clearly a talented writer, and I think she could have accomplished the same emotional surprise with more integrity.




Have to agree with Litagent. Gruen should have found a better way to open her story. Did she not trust the first scenes, in college, to hold the reader?


I have to go the other way on this one. I liked the intro, especially because of how you had to go back and look at it again at the end of the book and realize your own "illusion" about what you think is happening and isnt this a book about illusions in life and misperceptions? Also, I love books that start with a bang, no pun intended.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Introducing the story to the reader

Maybemd, Litagent -- Why do you as critics consider the technique Gruen used a "cheap trick"? What is meant by saying it lacked integrity? Teach us!

While I certainly wouldn't want every novel to "grab" or intrigue me this way, I enjoyed it here. In fact, perhaps it even has a sideshow shill's effect that fits the whole circus atmosphere of reality/illusion that pervades the story.

maybemd wrote: Have to agree with Litagent. Gruen should have found a better way to open her story. Did she not trust the first scenes, in college, to hold the reader?

Litagent wrote: I am a literary agent who reads for a living. I can be a tough critic. Overall, I quite enjoyed Water For Elephants. It is a compelling story, meticulously researched. I loved the characters and the information about the life in a traveling circus. However, I felt that the preface to the novel was a bit of a cheap trick. Gruen is clearly a talented writer, and I think she could have accomplished the same emotional surprise with more integrity.

"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
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself



vivico1 wrote:

maybemd wrote:


Litagent wrote:
I am a literary agent who reads for a living. I can be a tough critic. Overall, I quite enjoyed Water For Elephants. It is a compelling story, meticulously researched. I loved the characters and the information about the life in a traveling circus. However, I felt that the preface to the novel was a bit of a cheap trick. Gruen is clearly a talented writer, and I think she could have accomplished the same emotional surprise with more integrity.




Have to agree with Litagent. Gruen should have found a better way to open her story. Did she not trust the first scenes, in college, to hold the reader?


I have to go the other way on this one. I liked the intro, especially because of how you had to go back and look at it again at the end of the book and realize your own "illusion" about what you think is happening and isnt this a book about illusions in life and misperceptions? Also, I love books that start with a bang, no pun intended.




I really like this kind of writing also. And I am amazed that some do not feel Sarah Gruen was not a great writer. I love this book an dhope she writes more.
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KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Spoiler - Prologue/Ending

[ Edited ]
At first, I wasn't sure about the Prologue. I read it a couple of times. It kept me guessing. I have to agree with both sides on this one. Was it, or wasn't it necessary to 'shill' the reader, but it did entice me to see just what this mystery was about. Where would I find it within the story? It was kind of an Ah, Ha! At the end. I almost felt like I was had. Although, I had to laugh. The joke was on me! As Jacob's ending was a joke on them all! Which I think, with this all said, we were all duped!

The mystery of the read - it was the mystery of the characters, as they were slowly unraveled within the story.

Message Edited by KathyS on 12-05-2007 07:35 PM
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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introducing the story to the reader

I was iffy about this opening, too. But I agree that it is perfectly "justified" by the novel's themes. Is that a good excuse? Is it okay to go ahead with a transparent attention-grabbing "trick" if you can get away with it? I buy it here. I'm really enjoying this discussion of it!

Does the opening make you feel the book is a little lowerbrow, maybe?
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KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introducing the story to the reader

Hi,Rachel,
I didn't get the feeling that this was a lowbrow tactic, because [as you say], the theme warranted it. Actually, it pushed me into the story, with excitement! I felt the pace. I don't think that's a bad thing, when a writer wants to hook their readers, especially when the story calls for the 'over the top' affect. At least that was what I was feeling from it. The pace slowed, intermittently, which I loved, because it gave me a moment to breath, and reflect on the characters. I enjoy a writer who can give you those moments.
Kathy S.

rkubie wrote:
I was iffy about this opening, too. But I agree that it is perfectly "justified" by the novel's themes. Is that a good excuse? Is it okay to go ahead with a transparent attention-grabbing "trick" if you can get away with it? I buy it here. I'm really enjoying this discussion of it!

Does the opening make you feel the book is a little lowerbrow, maybe?


Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introducing the story to the reader


rkubie wrote:
I was iffy about this opening, too. But I agree that it is perfectly "justified" by the novel's themes. Is that a good excuse? Is it okay to go ahead with a transparent attention-grabbing "trick" if you can get away with it? I buy it here. I'm really enjoying this discussion of it!

Does the opening make you feel the book is a little lowerbrow, maybe?


*********end of book spoiler warning**********
I dont think it was a shill, or had no integrity or any of that stuff. I think it was a very good writing technique, after all it was no different than starting with any other flashback and then working your way through a story and back to that one point to see what really happened. Isnt that how the most successful crime stories on tv, and in many books work? How dupped were we, if we knew the story would have to come back to this one point after we started reading it? I think it was great. You had this very emotional opening, then as you read the book and get to know the characters and start to come more towards this incident again, you think you know "who dun it" and you worry, if this is the case, will Jacob and Marlena's love survive it? The book is building to come back to this and if you remember in the middle of the book, Jacob says he loves Rosie almost as much as Marlena, that it was an incredible love he felt for Rosie. So you have a hint that he could be this scared and emotional about seeing what he did and knowing what it could mean for her. And to find out it was her was as emotional for me too because I had come to love Rosie too and I would have understood either Marlena or Rosie taking advantage of the chaos at this point to basically, save themself. With the book being about misconceptions and false impressions we have about so many things in life, I think it was a great way to show that, by using the incident in the beginning to bring us back at the very end to confront our own false ideas. Very good vehicle for challenging us in the end.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introducing the story to the reader

In a nutshell ~
Peanuts for Rosie!!
:smileyvery-happy:
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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Introducing the story to the reader

In another thread, there are some very good posts about the prologue, in case anyone missed them.

POSSIBLE SPOILER: During my first reading, I wondered if the prologue's 'teaser' about who killed whom could be interpreted as a cheap trick to grab the reader's attention.

But as I finished the book, I reread the prologue to see how Sara Gruen's writing skills led me in the direction she wanted me to go... and when I got there, I only had myself to blame when I fell for her clever illusion. After all, the story is about circus illusions.

I didn't feel that the prologue was a lower-brow trick because it wasn't isolated from the rest of the story. It was embedded into the entire story... it explained Jacob's reticence to talk about his circus life. It was a 70-year-old secret that defined Jacob's character. It revealed his loyalty to his friend who would have been destroyed if the truth ever came out.

I loved the tactic because it worked for me.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
ELP
New User
ELP
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎12-07-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

I am an steady reader always have a book I'm reading, my roommate picked this up and couldn't put it down and said "you've got to read this!", eventually I did and yeah it is definitely a recommended read.
Inspired Correspondent
Wrighty
Posts: 1,762
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introducing the story to the reader


rkubie wrote:
I was iffy about this opening, too. But I agree that it is perfectly "justified" by the novel's themes. Is that a good excuse? Is it okay to go ahead with a transparent attention-grabbing "trick" if you can get away with it? I buy it here. I'm really enjoying this discussion of it!

Does the opening make you feel the book is a little lowerbrow, maybe?



I loved the opening and it really grabbed my attention. I tried to remember it as I read the story to figure out what led up to that point. I didn't feel duped, it was fun! There were clues along the way that made me think it wasn't going to be the expected ending. I also thought it suited the story - the illusion of the circus performances and the reality of the hardships of real life at that time. I couldn't imagine that this topic would make such a good story but it really did for me.
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introducing the story to the reader



Wrighty wrote:

rkubie wrote:
I was iffy about this opening, too. But I agree that it is perfectly "justified" by the novel's themes. Is that a good excuse? Is it okay to go ahead with a transparent attention-grabbing "trick" if you can get away with it? I buy it here. I'm really enjoying this discussion of it!

Does the opening make you feel the book is a little lowerbrow, maybe?



I loved the opening and it really grabbed my attention. I tried to remember it as I read the story to figure out what led up to that point. I didn't feel duped, it was fun! There were clues along the way that made me think it wasn't going to be the expected ending. I also thought it suited the story - the illusion of the circus performances and the reality of the hardships of real life at that time. I couldn't imagine that this topic would make such a good story but it really did for me.




I love oopenings like this book's. I really do. It keeps me interested by asking myself questions of why and how the author was talking about in the opening. This one was really a curious taker for me. I had to know who did it, even though I was alittle on the side of on the right track especially after I read a few chapters in the book.
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself



ELP wrote:
I am an steady reader always have a book I'm reading, my roommate picked this up and couldn't put it down and said "you've got to read this!", eventually I did and yeah it is definitely a recommended read.




Yes, my daughter came home from Florida and I met her plane. The first thing she said was Mom, you got to read this book. You know, I don't read much, but I couldn't put this down and you a avid reader I know you will love it. She showed me the book when I got home and so I showed her my copy and she bellowed out "might have known you would have already read the best book in the world." I really think its really up there on my favorite lists.
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tmae
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎12-16-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Hello. I am joining this book discussion late; hopefully not too late. I just bought the book today and will begin reading it tonight. Hope to catch up with y'all. This is my first book club and I am looking forward to it as I have read everyone's discussion and responses and it seems like a lively group.

Thanks...
Write what should not be forgotten - Isabel Allende
...and read what will change your life
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