Friday, April 22, 2011

Help With Elephants

Okay, two days, two books, so two reviews.  Simple enough.
The Help
First up, we have The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  It's a novel about the black household help in the Civil Rights 1960's, brave women who decide to go ahead and allow themselves to speak to a white local woman who wants to write about what it's like to work for the white people of Jackson, Mississippi.....many of them her friends and members of her "community."  Amazing, amazing book.  As the author states in her section in the back she knows that without having been black help she really can never right it perfectly, but she tries hard to do the women of that time justice.  It has moments that will make you indignant, moments where you will laugh, moments where you will be horrified that those sorts of events took place not even 50 years ago (and some continue to, such as bigotry).  It is well written.  It hops between characters in a fluid way that I rather enjoyed.  And the characters develop as they go along.  I would say that this is a must read for the summer.
{Water for Elephants}WATER FOR ELEPHANTS BY GRUEN, SARA[paperback]on 01 May -2007
Second, I read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  It is an enchanting page turner, I finished it in just over 12 hours, spread out over the course of my day.  I have to admit I don't do circuses or zoos because of the animals, so I was a little apprehensive.  However it left me wanting to join a circus (albeit one from the 1920's or 1930's).  I watched the previews for the film when I was halfway through the book and I think I will need to see this now, though I can't imagine even with great actors they will do it the justice I think it deserves.  It's a story about a veterinary student who is right at the time for final exams to become a vet, a bright young man, whose parents are suddenly killed in a crash.  His life becomes full of turmoil quite quickly, and he walks out of the exam and keeps on walking, jumps a train that turns out to be a circus train.  Practically a vet he finds a place and the adventure begins.  This book goes back and forth between the Jacob of 1931 and the Jacob of today, a man in his 90's who remembers those days better than he does the day before.  This novel is written in a way where images practically jump off the pages into your mind and you find yourself immersed in the darker side of the circus world (and that was then....we won't even get into today).  Absolutely fascinating, do not just walk to your bookstore, run.  And please read it before you see the film.

I just picked up The Captive Queen by Alison Weir about Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Should have that finished by Sunday even with all the madness this weekend.  If you've never read anything by Alison Weir I highly recommend her if you like either non-fiction history or historical novels....she has both.  She's actually a historian who tried her hand at turning what she knew into novels later.  Though I've only read her novels I have a friend whose only read her non-fiction and both of us think she's brilliant.


  1. I plan on finishing Water for Elephants tonight and I couldn't agree with you more, its been a great read. I'm tempted to check out more of her stuff now :)

  2. I really enjoyed Water for Elephants when I read it. I saw the movie tonight with my mom and sister and would agree that one should absolutely read the book BEFORE they see the movie. I am glad you included some thougths on The Help. There was a preview for this movie tonight and I told my mom I knew it was a book also. I am looking forward to reading it.

  3. I started reading Water for Elephants, but had to see the movie on Friday, when it came out. So, now I'm about half way through, and I can't put it down. Love it!! The movie made me want to run away and join the circus (circa 1930, as well).

  4. I have heard rave reviews about The Help from friends, and I may pick this book for my summer reading list.

    I am apprehensive about Elephants; I don't do circuses, zoos, or pet stores because I feel deep mental pain when I see animals in cages. I can't watch ads for the SPCA on television, and I have extremely strong feelings about venues like Sea World. Nevertheless, I've also heard great reviews about this book, but I'm not sure I could handle the stories about animal use/abuse.