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Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Water for Elephants has an elderly Jacob Jankowski telling the story of his life with the circus. In 1932 just before he graduated from veterinary school, his parents died in a car accident. Having lost everything, he finds himself on a train with the Benzini Brothers traveling circus and decides to join them. The Benzini Brothers is not a top flight circus, full of mangy animals and brutal and odd employees. Jacob's veterinary skills move him up to being an animal doctor, and he finds himself falling for the beautiful Marlena, wife of the mercurial and bad-tempered animal trainer. When the circus purchases an elephant named Rosie and who then appears to be untrainable, it's up to Jacob to train her and save the circus. Sara Gruen's novel has received positive reviews with the New York Times saying, "Unsurprisingly, writers seem liberated by imagining a spectacle where no comparison ever seems inflated, no development impossible. For better and for worse, Gruen has fallen under the spell. With a showman's expert timing, she saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale."
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