I usually give a book time to simmer and settle before I do a dance about it here, though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
It's all about seeing what shape the lasting impression takes.Does it stay with me? Do the characters stay clear in my mind? Has it steered me towards other reading?Will I press it on all and sundry?
Well it's probably an hour or so since I finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and that's plenty long enough for me to dash to my laptop and pronounce.I know for sure this book will leave an indelible impression on me so no point in hanging around and depriving you of a good recommend.
It only arrived on Wednesday, you haven't even seen it in tomorrow's confessions yet, but I read the first few pages and couldn't stop.Beautifully written book that doesn't miss a beat and gets a 5* rating from me.
This is US circus life in the 1930's and young vet student Jacob Janowski, having lost his parents in a car crash, walks out of his final exams, out of town, and jumps on the first passing train.It's The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth circus train and the story is narrated by 93 year old Jacob now incarcerated in a nursing home.
As well as an incredible depiction of old age, I thought it was the most riveting account of circus life with all its superficial glamour concealing all the underlying brutality and hardships. Most of all you live and breath this amazing world of the train with its menagerie of wild animals as it travels the length and breadth of the US and you can only wonder at what a fabulous spectacle it must have made.
There's plenty of moonshine and sarsaparilla, roustabaouts and ringmasters, lovely grainy circus photos and a smiling elephant called Rosie.It takes some time to figure out how to coax Rosie into co-operation and it's no coincidence that Jacob's nurse is called Rosemary and has to do much the same with her belligerent charge.
I was nervous for this elephant because the book reminded me of The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall, shortlisted for the Booker a few years ago, and we all know about that elephant.The Coney Island crowds baying for ever greater and more shocking sights who flocked to see Lulu don her copper boots and be wired up to umpteen thousand volts.
A fictional account of an actual and gruesome demonstration in 1903 by Thomas Edison to prove the dangers of his rival George Westinghouse's alternating current.It was apparently but a short jolt to the invention of the electric chair.
I'm all upset now I've reminded myself of that, but rest assured Rosie has the measure of everyone and you end up punching the air triumphantly for all elephants everywhere.
Post reading research reveals this was another Quills shortlisted book, has been a best seller in the US, and check out here for a picture of Sara Gruen (Canadian) hugging that old Canadian troubadour himself Gordon Lightfoot.
Apropos of not a lot and fuelled by Blue Nun we probably played and sang If You Could Read My Mind at that party, it was one of our favourites.We probably sang Nellie the Elephant too.