Yay! My book club liked my pick for this month! I liked it so much, I didn't mind that the ending was rather cheesy, if not predictable (as a Publishers Weekly review claimed).

The novel follows a 23-year-old virgin, Jacob, who drops out of Cornell's vet school with only a few exams left after learning his parents died in a car wreck during the Great Depression. He ends up jumping a train and landing in a circus, which eventually welcomes their first vet (The circus folk are comfortable with almosts; Jacob repeatedly tells them that he's not an actual vet, but they pretend otherwise.) By the novel's end, Jacob acquires a pregnant wife, an elephant who only understands Polish, a dog and 11 horses.

Obviously, he loses his virginity along the way.

That story - which contains both the wonders of human-animal bonds and the sinister, cruel side of circus life - is juxtaposed with an elderly Jacob who feels trapped in a nursing home by patronizing nurses, relatives that too seldom visit and sheer boredom. The book receives its name from another nursing home patient who claims he once carried water to the elephants in a circus. Jacob calls the man an old coot and a liar. But Jacob never explains that elephants drink so much water that they must be led to the water, not the other way around.
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