01 March 2011

{Old} Circusfolk

Just finished reading Water for Elephants, a period novel by Sara Gruen centered around a Prohibition Era, low budget traveling circus that will soon be out on film. I saw the trailer for the movie before Black Swan and it looks just beautiful. All vintage and sparkly and seedy and rich with feeling. I was reluctant and somehow knew the novel would wrench my heart all up thinking about the circus animals--especially the wise, gentle giant Rosie--but I made it through and I really did like this book.
Being a member of Team Edward myself, I am pleased to see who will be playing vet student Jacob, who jumps on the circus train after suffering a great personal loss and falls instantly for horse trainer and showgirl Marlena, played by the lovely Reece Witherspoon.

I will say, though, that reading this book, just as I was anxious it would, left me with some darker thoughts about old age (parts of the novel are narrated by Jacob from the lonesome nursing home where he ends up) and our often brutal treatment of animals for the sake of entertainment, money and even food. I haven't gotten any of it figured out yet and probably never will, but I try to keep from thinking about how I can somehow reconcile the death of some animals (which just can't be as "humane" as we all tell ourselves it is) so I can eat steak or bacon (so yummy, I do admit) but could hardly bring myself to read this book because I feared something was going to happen to the titular elephant. I don't know...I just turn thoughts like this over and over in my mind, think about the suffering, the feelings we know all animals to have, not just pets, and get really sad and conflicted. Then if that's not awful enough I think about how scary it will be to be an elderly woman and have to be dependent on others for so many things, the indignity of it all, the loneliness, the possibility of forgetting all the good that happened to me along the way, the people I have loved, the people who have loved me. Old Jacob doesn't like to look in the mirror in the nursing home because he doesn't see himself there, and I know just what he means by that. I had a feeling this book would take me to some shadowy places in my mind...but I would like to see the film and am hopeful it will balance some of the melancholy I feel with some of the heart and vintage beauty I am so drawn to.


Julie said...

I loved this book. I've read two of her other books as well. I know what you mean about the whole meat thing and treatment of animals. I have pondered that very thought in the past few years and even very recently. I would love to have a farm so I know the animals would be humanely treated but would I be able to slaughter them for my dinner plate? I ask myself this very often. I don't know if I could be a vegetarian either, I really like meat. Anyway, your not alone on this thought process. I really hope all is well. I owe you an email and will send one soon. Love, Julie

MickeyMFan said...

I just started this book yesterday, and I have to say that I will probably be finished or close to it by this weekend. I didn't even read your whole post about it nor Julie's comment for fear of reading something that I haven't come to yet. :) I've heard SOOO many people say they loved it, and with Edward in the film, I knew I had to read it for myself.

Just FYI--I also just finished The Help thanks on your recommendation. LOVED IT!! Can't wait for that movie either, except I'm afraid of how much they will have to leave out. Not sure on that one...


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