Books - Review

Showing all books by: Sara Gruen

Ape House
A group of bonobo apes is being studied (sympathetically and humanely) - and taught sign language in the process. The lab is blown up, the project is finished and the apes get sold to a TV company which makes a reality TV show called Ape House. A journalist and one of the original project scientists endeavour to rescue the apes from this fate.
Very contrived feeling to the plot and characters. Simplistic and very 2-dimensional. But see next review for Gruen's Water for Elephants. Read at the beach house in Oakura - a book Hilary bought because she enjoyed W for E.
Score: 5
Published: 2010
Read: March 27th 2014

Water for Elephants
Jacob is an elderly, grumpy man in a nursing home reminiscing about his life. His parents were killed just before he graduated from vet school, in depression-era USA, and he ran off and jumped on a train, which turned out to be a circus train. He became the circus vet, but falls in love with the beautiful horse-riding act woman, who is unhappily married to Jacob's boss, the head animal trainer. The circus buys an elephant named Rosie who Jacob discovers will only respond to orders given in Polish and the circus seems to be going from strength to strength, but the owner and ringmaster is a bit psycho and arranges for unwanted personnel to be pushed off the moving train, a practice which leads to the circus' downfall. Elderly Jacob eventually gets to visit the circus down the road and decides he doesn't need the rest home any more.
Great. Really good characters, fantastic plot, brilliant details of life with a circus train from 1930's America. Even the decidedly weird characters seem entirely believable.
Score: 9
Published: 2006
Read: April 5th 2014