The idea for this book came unexpectedly: In early 2003 I was gearing up to write an entirely different book when the Chicago Tribune ran an article on Edward J Kelty, a photographer who followed traveling circuses around America in the 1920s and '30s. The photograph that accompanied the article so fascinated me... .
I spent the next four and a half months acquiring the knowledge necessary to do justice to this subject, ... .
The history of the American circus is so rich that I plucked many of this story's most outrageous details from fact or anecdote (in circus history, the line between the two is famously blurred). ...
And finally, I'd like to draw attention to two old-time circus elephants, not just because they inspired major plot points, but also because these old girls deserve to be remembered. (from: Author's Note, pp. 333-334)
Seldom have I read a book where I absolutely loved the ending and found it a great way to conclude a good story. This is exactly how I felt about Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen. I was drawn into the story immediately, kept total interest throughout my reading, and was very pleased with the final ending. I found the history of the circus fascinating and I very much enjoyed the stories of Jacob Jankowski as both a young man and an old man. Although the abuse scenes were a bit unsettling, they were necessary and not overly explicit.
I highly recommend the book Water For Elephants to my fellow readers. And no, I have not seen the movie yet but plan to in the near future.