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Saturday December 20, 2014
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Sara Gruen

 

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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.

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