I have just finished reading the wonderfully written Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, a novel set in current and pre-war America depicting the tale of a young man’s fantastical and sometimes tragic adventures with a travelling circus. The book is simply amazing and I hear that it is being made into a movie starring Reece Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, I for one can’t wait to see it as the novel itself paint a sometimes romantic but mostly scary picture of circus life where amongst the sequins, feathers and happy audience lies world of deceit and horror where people and animals are as dispensable as each other.
Upon reading the book I was quite shocked to hear that many of the stories were based upon fact and that, unlike the UK, the USA hasn’t forbid the use of animals in circus acts, as far as I can see it is upon the State itself to introduce the legislation itself. In fact as I dug a little deeper I discovered several campaigns against Ringlings, a circus actually mentioned in the book, for their maltreatment of elephants- after reading about Rosie in Water for Elephants that really breaks my heart. ANY WAY’S, I won’t say any more except read the book.
Horror stories aside the book did remind me of summer and, as a child, always being entranced by the beautiful performers in all their sequins and make up; of course I know the circus life isn’t as glamorous as I once thought it was as a child but despite the hearing the awful truth about how people and animals were treated I can’t help looking at images of performers (old and new) and be in awe of them…
Mickey King, image courtesy of Circus4Youth
Linda Jeal, image courtesy of Alliance Library System
Image courtesy of Life