What an eye opening glimpse into the Depression Era and the behind the scenes of life on a circus train. Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen) was this month's pick but before that it was one I was potential going to pick when it was my duty in 2009. It has several gritty scenes involving sex which unfortunately come almost back to back in the first third of the book with nothing much later on of "questionable" nature. Since there are some in the book club who object to such and I was up against a tight deadline of reading before having to announce my choice I feared that if I continued and then didn't have enough time to pick another more appropriate book it would be disastrous. So I abandoned it and it ended up on my book shelf with the rest of the novels I've started and put down for one reason or another over the past year or two with thoughts of "someday" returning to finish. When I found out I actually would get the chance to finish it I was ecstatic.
The book has an interesting premise - who doesn't wonder what it would be like to abandon your life and join the circus never to look back? The story is loosely based on historical circus' of the era as well as several elephants whose antics appear in one of the books main characters - Rosie the elephant. The ending was well thought out and satisfying although the first two thirds of the book seemed - for me - to drag along. Part of that is because I always feel rather detatched when reading a book written in first person present tense as this one is. I thought several times midway through that if I wasn't reading for book club I might be tempted to put it down since the pacing was rather tedious. There is intricate details painted of day to day living on the circus train which does little to further the plot quickly in many places. However, the ending was so fantastic that I never once held those chapters against the author when I was done. All in all, a good read.