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Water for Elephants Summary Review

Updated on September 29, 2010

Water for Elephants Book Cover

Water for Elephants Author Sara Gruen Accolades

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is one of the better books I've read in awhile. It deals with unusual subject material written in a creative voice. Water for Elephants is a love story, mystery, drama, comedy and historical novel all rolled into one.

Water for Elephants is winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Diamond Award for Most Popular Book. It was nominated for two Quill Awards- General Fiction and Book of the Year. Water for Elephants hit the #1 spot on the New York Times Best-Seller list in the summer of 2007. Sara Gruen is also the author of the best-seller, "Riding Lessons".

Research for Water for Elephants

Sara did extensive research about the circus life during the Great Depression before writing "Water for Elephants", and it shows. Some of the events in the novel were inspired by true stories that Sara uncovered while doing her research on circuses and elephants.

Another Sara Gruen Novel

Water for Elephants Storyline

Read about Jacob, a 90-something-year old that is now in a retirement home. He recounts his youth and tells about how he joined the circus during the Great Depression era. Jacob meets the beautiful horse trainer, Marlena. He befriends Walter the midget. And one of Jacob's best friends is Rosie, an abused elephant.

Water for Elephants reveals what circus life and the Depression may have been like. It is filled with some memorable characters. Who can ever forget Walter and his beloved dog? Or Rosie the stubborn, but heroic elephant?

Circus Elephant

Animal Lovers, Beware Before Reading Water for Elephants

Be warned that this book deals with circuses from the past before there were any regulations to protect animals. There are many scenes dealing with animal abuse. Some of them are quite graphic and disturbing.

Water for Elephants Summary

Water for Elephants does require a bit of suspension of disbelief. There are some plot points that are hard to accept. The book also has a somewhat fairytale ending. Don't let that stop you from appreciating this book. Just go with the fantasy and enjoy it.

Water for Elephants Comments

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    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 

      12 years ago from Iowa

      Hi Angela,

      I enjoyed your review of this book. It has been a little while since I read it and your synopsis reminded me of some of the more salient points I had forgotten! I agree that some of the plot points stretched beyond what is believable, but the story has such a fantastic element that it is ok to throw disbelief to the wind and just enjoy the author's great storytelling. I recently learned a Ringling Bros. museum is down in Florida. I'm hoping to get there some time to see it! Cheers!

    • sdorrian profile image


      12 years ago from Chicago

      This books has been on my list of books to read for a while. I'll get to it next! Thanks for the review!

    • Angela Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Harris 

      12 years ago from Around the USA

      Of course you are welcome, Patty. I meant to visit that refuge when I was in Arkansas. I have regretted it many times that I never got around to it. I will look for the PBS special and see if I can rent it. Thanks!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      12 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I was supposed to do a professional review of this book, but it never arrived.

      Yes, Arkansas; I'd forgotten the state. There was a PBS special and it perhaps was aalso shown on network TV.

      Thanks very much for this Hub!

    • Angela Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Harris 

      12 years ago from Around the USA

      Steph, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. My daughter read it as well and she also liked it a lot. Don't skip the end of the book where Sara talks about her research for the novel. It has some fascinating stuff in it.

      Thanks so much, Rhym! Maybe after this goshdang contest is over, I will have time to read some more. (Just joking, Hubpages. Well, kind of.) I'm hoping to get to the library soon or get some new books for my birthday.

      Patty, I'm not sure, have you read the book? If not, it would be a really special read for you with your father's history, I would think. Thanks so much for the story.

      Do you mean the refuge in Arkansas? It is the only one in the USA that I know. I would so much enjoy working somewhere like that.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      12 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      OMG, this is about circuses when my father as a child and his freinds and the farm hands would meet the train at the end of the line and help set up the tents and care for the animals.

      My father always took care of the elephants and was very kind to them.

      I like the elephant refuge in the US wehere old elephant friends met again, rememeberd each other and spent the rest of their days happy.

    • Rhym O'Reison profile image

      Rhym O'Reison 

      12 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I also really enjoyed this book....and your description is very accurate. I'd like to hear more reviews from you.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      12 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      I am halfway through reading this book (due to the contest)! I think it is beautifully written and I can't wait to get to the end! Thanks for the review.


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