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Water for Elephants... A Book Review

Updated on January 16, 2022
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As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

Circus Trainer


Elderly Remembering

This is a charming book about an elderly widower in a semi-assistance home, remembering his life with the circus. Some of the most charming bits are about his life as an older person. The writer explains some of the most personal and embarrassing things that an elderly person may endure, including help showering, dressing, incontinence, and eating. It was both funny and heartbreaking. His love of his departed wife and memories of her keeps the reader wanting to know more. As many novels do, the action takes you back and forth in time, but in this case, it was easy to follow because the elderly man is remembering. You get the idea that they often just sit staring out the window and remembering. Whether this is or isn’t the case, I found the book charming and the main character very believable and endearing.

Elderly Time Coming


My Life

It made me picture my life in the years to come. What will I think about and remember? What will I dwell on when there is only my and my active mind against an inactive body? What humiliations will I have to endure when I need help eating or going to the bathroom? It is inevitable. The only way to avoid old age is to stop living. Neither seems a desirable choice. When I was a teenage girl, I used to sit and stare out the window dreaming of my life ahead. I had no idea I would one day do the same thing as an older person dreaming of my life gone by.


The Circus

In his life with the circus, the narrator helps to rescue and train an elephant. Therefore he knows a lot about elephants. So when another elderly man in the home announces that he used to bring water to the elephants at the circus, he knows that man is lying. You don’t bring water to an elephant. They drink too much. You take the elephant to the water. That was a piece of news I didn’t know and was amused to find out.



The Circus


Circus Life

If you ever wanted to know anything about the traveling circuses in the '30s and '40s or about the life of the elderly, you must read this novel. If you just want a lovely diversion and a sweet love story, this is for you. Excellent book. Well worth the time.

It reminds me of the old TV show called Circus Boy with Mickey Dolence as the circus boy before he was a Monkey. Only those over 60 will remember this show. Still, it was a great circus show and Mickey was adorable.

Movie Trailer

Old Folks Home

When the narrator described the dining room inhabited by a variety of elderly people, I was moved. He looked over at a glassy-eyed, vacant man being fed by an aide who shoveled food into his mouth and then reminded him to chew. Then the narrator examined his own condition as being in that state in the not too distant future. It was as if I saw a window into my own future, and not a pleasant image at that. The only escape would be to die young, which doesn’t seem ideal either. As a matter of fact, the author described all the scenes in the old folks home with such detail and passion, you get the idea that he has personal knowledge of the workings of old age conditions. I was fascinated and horrified. I couldn’t stop myself. I had to read more. It is universal. All of us someday will be facing a future like that.


Trained Elephant


The Movie

This book was made into a movie with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. However, I always love the books better than the movies made from them. There is more detail, more emotion, more pathos in the book than they can possibly put into a movie (although some movie makers can come very close). This book is well worth the read before seeing the movie.

The circus

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