Water for Elephants

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 May, 2011, 12:00am

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Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen
Hodder and Stoughton, HK$104

Water for Elephants is the latest movie vehicle for Robert 'Could I be any more wooden if I was an armchair?' Pattinson. Originally it was a novel by Sara Gruen. She was inspired by National Novel Writing Month, which challenges you to produce 50,000 words in one month. Our hero is Jacob Jankowski, a veterinary student at Cornell University. Tragedy strikes when Jacob's parents are killed in a car crash. He then learns that his father, also a vet, was treating most of his clients for free, and plunging the family into debt to give Jacob his posh education. Jacob has something of a breakdown, runs away with the circus and dives into a passionate love triangle. The lust object is the beautiful Marlena. The obstacle is Marlena's husband, August, the cruel animal trainer. The plot trips along so predictably that I wondered how original this all was. The death of Jacob's parents feels eerily like Roald Dahl. The circus plot echoes 1956's Trapeze and Woody Allen's Shadows and Fog, to name two. The rest smacks of Gerald Durrell's classic Rosie is My Relative - Gruen even includes an elephant called Rosie with a central part to play.