Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

Jacob Jankowski is an old man, living in a residential home and the circus has just come to town. This triggers memories of the days when he accidentally jumped aboard a circus train in the middle of the Great Depression.

The level of violence in this book was shocking, along with the gritty characters who were just struggling. The contrast between the glitter of the ring and the day-to-day struggle of a circus operating outside the low, travelling between towns on a long train with animals packed into cars and men who the circus can no longer keep being redlighted.

Then there is a the care home life of Jacob, who is worried about losing his memory and feels institutionalised by a home which only ever serves soft food in spite of the fact that he still has his teeth. He misses his dead wife and his many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and has a few like-minded souls and one nurse who realises he is still human.

Love how the two timelines tie together and the misdirection in the prologue.

Also this is a success for the Libraries West book reservation system. Ordered it from home (online) and it appeared at my village library within the week for a very reasonable fee. Good system and supporting the community library.

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