FB Movie Book Smackdown: Water for Elephants (2006)

Water for Elephants

Written by Sara Gruen

Publication Date: May 26, 2006

Published by Algonquin Books

Genre: Historical Romance

Price: $14.95

Movie Adaptation: Directed by Francis Lawrence. Starring: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz. Screenplay by Richard LaGravenese. Release Date: April 22, 2011. Studio: 20th Century Fox and Flashpoint Entertainment

I watched the trailer for the film adaptation of Sara Gruen’s 2006 novel, Water for Elephants and I was mesmerized by the images that I saw.  Robert Pattinson’s in the movie. It does give me a red flag that it would suck, but I thought I would read the source material before possibly watching the movie. I have to say that I am afraid that I would hate the film more that I loved the book so much.

The setting takes place in Depression Era America where a young Cornell veterinary student named Jacob Jankowski has to face the realization of being out on his own when his parents are suddenly killed in a car accident. With no family left, he decides to run away. He stumbles on a traveling circus called Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth where he is not welcomed with opens. He is on the verge of being thrown out when a horse of the beautiful equestrian star, Marlena is sick. Jacob diagnoses the condition and tells Marlena that her horses cannot recover. This devastates her.

Uncle Al is manager of the show decides to take Jacob on as the show’s veterinarian since they have a hodgepodge of performers and animals from other defunct shows. They needed someone cheap to take care the animals in the menagerie.

Things get complicated when Jacob falls in love with Marlena. The trouble is that she is married to the ringmaster, August, who can be charming one minute and insane the next. During his time traveling with the circus, Jacob learns to grow up and be exposed to a world that he has never known.

I was sucked into this fantastical world of sequins, animals, illusions, rubes and performers. I would shut out the world and be engulfed in Gruen’s world that she has constructed. She did the book as a part of National Novel Writing Month, which is a “non-profit organization The Office of Letters and Light. Spanning the month of November, the project challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in one month.” It’s impressive that a woman who has never seen a circus could be so real about this world.

The affair between Jacob and Marlena was a little melodramatic to my taste, bordering on soap opera level dialogue, but it all changed when a turning point with them changed everything.

Final K.O.: I have a feeling that the book will be infinitely better than the movie that I have seen yet. It is a heartwarming story that needs to be on everyone’s must read list.

Decision: *****

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on January 21, 2011, in FB Movie Book Smackdown and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. loved the book, kept thinking this would be the coolest movie ever, didn’t realize it was made into a movie! can’t wait to see it, thanks for the rating.

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