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Rachel-K
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SPOILER: How the Prologue Plays Out

Who did you, upon reading the prologue, think murdered August? What effect did that opening scene of chaos and murder have on your reception of the story that follows?
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IBIS
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Re: SPOILER: How the Prologue Plays Out

The prologue was cleverly done. It leads all readers to believe that Marlena, in her pink sequined outfil, kills August. And her name is never mentioned. When Jacob said that he kept her secret for 70 years, readers assumed he meant Marlena. But now we see he meant Rosie.

At the end of the book, I had to go back to reread the prologue. Then I remembered that Rosie ALSO had a pink sequined costume. Marlena had lovingly made a costume for Rosie out of the same pink material as her own costume. It was the one that August has ripped in his fury. When August flipped the lit cigarette into Rosie's open mouth, I knew that his cruelty to Rosie would end badly.

Nice literary hook; I felt like Rosie did when the elephant hook leads her wherever the circus trainer wanted her to go. Sara Gruen definitely used that literary "hook" cleverly; she made me go, with misdirection, towards reading the entire book.

It was very clever of the author; I didn't feel tricked at all.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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ELee
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Re: SPOILER: How the Prologue Plays Out

After reading the prologue, my initial impression was that a “girl” in a pink sequined outfit committed the murder...a girl who meant a great deal to the narrator... a girl who coolly calculated ending the life of “that son of a bitch” - a prominent person, indicated by his top hat and silver-tipped cane. All kinds of questions raced through my mind. What did the red-faced man do to her to bring her to this point? What were the narrator’s feelings for the girl? Was there a future for the two of them together, or did he merely keep her secret safe? Was he in some trouble of his own?

The prologue definitely hooked me. It was a rollercoaster ride. In four pages, beginning with a deserted midway and a few workers eating the last of the burgers, it escalated to a churning maelstrom of wild animals and spectators providing cover for a ruthless murder.

There was just one niggling detail that I could not reconcile and it lingered undefined in the back of my mind until the end of the novel. I was not convinced that someone of a slight enough stature that you would call her a “girl” could lift a stake high enough and bring it down with enough force to split a man’s head like a watermelon.
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fordmg
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Re: SPOILER: How the Prologue Plays Out

I thought the Prologue worked well in this story. I actually remembered it, and thought back a few times as the story revealed the relationship between August and Marlena. I was glad when I found out it was the elephant who did it. There were several places in the story that indicated that the elephant was very smart. So I could relate to believing that Rosie knew just who she was killing. It wasn't an accedent.
MG
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Fozzie
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Re: SPOILER: How the Prologue Plays Out



ELee wrote:
There was just one niggling detail that I could not reconcile and it lingered undefined in the back of my mind until the end of the novel. I was not convinced that someone of a slight enough stature that you would call her a “girl” could lift a stake high enough and bring it down with enough force to split a man’s head like a watermelon.



I thought the prologue was a great way to pull the reader into the book. As I started the book, I thought that Marlena must be the woman in the prologue. I read the prologue again midway through the book, and again concluded that the woman must be Marlena.

However, Like ELee, I had some doubt. I could not reconcile killing August with Marlena's personality, as it is presented in the book. From the midpoint on, I kept wondering what August would do to drive her to kill him. I just couldn't see her doing it. Despite how difficult August was, she did understand he was mentally ill and she tried to manage the situation as best she could.

Having Rosie as the killer made much more sense to me, in terms of motive and willingness to kill. Also, after reading several interviews with the author, I was fascinated to learn that elephants did indeed regularly kill people.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Sappho
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Registered: ‎11-21-2007
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Re: SPOILER: How the Prologue Plays Out


Fozzie wrote:


ELee wrote:
There was just one niggling detail that I could not reconcile and it lingered undefined in the back of my mind until the end of the novel. I was not convinced that someone of a slight enough stature that you would call her a “girl” could lift a stake high enough and bring it down with enough force to split a man’s head like a watermelon.



I thought the prologue was a great way to pull the reader into the book. As I started the book, I thought that Marlena must be the woman in the prologue. I read the prologue again midway through the book, and again concluded that the woman must be Marlena.

However, Like ELee, I had some doubt. I could not reconcile killing August with Marlena's personality, as it is presented in the book. From the midpoint on, I kept wondering what August would do to drive her to kill him. I just couldn't see her doing it. Despite how difficult August was, she did understand he was mentally ill and she tried to manage the situation as best she could.

Having Rosie as the killer made much more sense to me, in terms of motive and willingness to kill. Also, after reading several interviews with the author, I was fascinated to learn that elephants did indeed regularly kill people.



Right on-
The opening leaves a taste in your mouth, watering for the reasons a young woman would commit murder. This carries through the novel, for me, wondering, looking for clues in Marlena's character, for distinctive signs she might give to allow us to believe that she would be capable of this ultimate act of judgement.
To me, she never exhibited what I thought it would "take" and in this, she fits with Jacob, as a partner, morally: he had his chance...and he decided against it. But at the same time, I kept "forgiving" Marlena, (thinking she had done "it".)as August and the others revealed themselves in all their cruelty.
Finally, I agree: as a horse woman, Marlena may have been relatively strong, but still, a man's greater height, build, and strength have always been his protection from the vengeance of women! Swinging a crowbar like tool downward?And Marlena just didn't seem to be the type who would not go at it face to face, like a man! -Colleen
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vivico1
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Re: SPOILER: How the Prologue Plays Out

You know, one other thing about the prologue and how well the book was written. We talked about how Sara transitioned very well between the old and the young Jacob, well, this book was so well written, each story, that to tell you the truth, I forgot all about the prologue scene until we were nearing the end of the story. I was so engrossed in the rest of it as it undfolded. lol
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
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Re: SPOILER: How the Prologue Plays Out



vivico1 wrote:
You know, one other thing about the prologue and how well the book was written. We talked about how Sara transitioned very well between the old and the young Jacob, well, this book was so well written, each story, that to tell you the truth, I forgot all about the prologue scene until we were nearing the end of the story. I was so engrossed in the rest of it as it undfolded. lol




You are so right, Viv. I didn't even consider it would be a problem for some people the way it was written. It just seemed the perfect book to me.
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Popper19
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Re: SPOILER: How the Prologue Plays Out



fordmg wrote:
I thought the Prologue worked well in this story. I actually remembered it, and thought back a few times as the story revealed the relationship between August and Marlena. I was glad when I found out it was the elephant who did it. There were several places in the story that indicated that the elephant was very smart. So I could relate to believing that Rosie knew just who she was killing. It wasn't an accedent.
MG




I also remembered the prologue throughout the book and was actually relieved when I found out it was the elephant. I agree with you fordmg that Rosie knew who she was killing and that there was nothing accidental about it.
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