Saturday, June 18, 2011

Good On Ya, Rosie

Now and again I seem to pick a common theme in my reading material.  This month it is evidently violence and animal abuse.  After some very disturbing scenes in The Wasp Factory I've had to endure some terrible scenes in Water for Elephants.  With this aside, it really is an engrossing novel.  Set during the Great Depression, it gives you an insight into how desperate men will do anything to remain in work even if it is with the unscrupulous Uncle Al,  the owner of The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

There is a love interest, of course, and this is in the form of the talented Marlena whom Jacob, our narrator, is very attracted to.  Marlena is married to August the head animal trainer.  August is a paranoid schizophrenic and a very unlikable character indeed.  The novel is told by Jacob in the present remembering his life in the past, he is 90 or 93 - he's not too sure - and lives in a nursing home.  When a circus comes to town it triggers his memories.

Jacob has become a very cantankerous old man but he reminds you that we are all going to be old one day, that all old people were young once and, like Jacob maybe, they have a story to tell.

Ringling Brothers Circus is mentioned as the circus that Uncle Al aspires to become, and I was fascinated to note after Googling it, that it is a real circus that started in 1884.  It absorbed the famous Barnum and Bailey and was well known for its honest dealings, and is still in operation today.

And Rosie?  Well she's proof of the old adage that elephants never forget - and neither do they forgive.

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