imagination. The great day of the train circuses the ones that packed up and moved from town to town, coming and going like some glorious half-
remembered dream was already long gone.
Sara Gruen has found a way to make the fantasy almost real. Her new novel, Water for Elephants, is a loving, ambitious, playful re-creation of an early-1930s whistle-stop circus. It certainly has its share of intrigue, of love and death and terror, of the tragic and the seedy, but mostly it is a hymn of celebration to a vanished way of life. For as much as I know, she may have a few details wrong, but I certainly don't care. She has done her research, and she has created a world I've only fantasized about. Although she tells a good story about interesting people that keeps her readers turning the pages, just about everything including plot and character can be sacrificed to the setting that has so captivated her imagination.