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Wine & Book Group Pick for May '07

abstract:Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen is an imaginative story set during the American depression involving an orphan boy named Jacob and the tribe of circus performers and animals that become his world. Alternating between Jacob's early life and his final years in a nursing home, the story is sure to intrigue and stimulate interesting discussions. For wines we've picked labels with elephants! Join the Wine & Book Group and meet more hearty food, story and wine lovers!


May 14, 2007

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  • The Author

    Sara was born in Vancouver, BC, and grew up in London, Ontario, then went to University in Ottawa and lived there for ten more years. She moved to the USA for a writing project, and now lives in Texas with her husband, three children, and several pets and animals. A self-confessed animal-lover, she donates portions of her royalties to various animal shelters and non-profits.

    Water for Elephants: A Novel is her third novel. Her two previous novels each involved the horse community: Riding Lessons, and Flying Changes: A Novel. Inspiration for Elephants came when she saw a vintage circus photo in the newspaper. She ordered the booklet of photos and was hooked. She spent the next four months researching the Depression era and circus acts and performers. She took four trips. She watched documentaries on the Depression, and read letters and memoirs of real circus performers. Although she usually completes her books in under six months, Water for Elephants took her one year to complete—which is pretty speedy, regardless.

    As far as writing technique goes, Sara states, 

    "I guess I figure out what the crisis of the book is going to be and then I sit down and I get my first scene. But once I have my first scene I really just have to keep going. My method is I spend an hour and a half sort of revving up every morning and I’ll read what I wrote the day before and maybe do a little revising of it, and then just keep going. I just read that last tiny little bit until I feel like I can continue."  

    Her next book is likely going to be about gorillas, a subject that has fascinated her for 22 years.

    Wine Picks

    This Mendocino wine with the elephant watching a game of bocce on the label is only $15. It is a Tuscan-inspired blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Carignane.


       Elephant on a Tightrope is a new product line from France offering several quality wines under this unique branding label. The desire was to create a consumer-friendly French wine brand that would strike a balance between wine style, price, and packaging without compromising standards, which they like to refer to as "French wines for today." All of their wines have been personally selected from family-run estates throughout France, with whom they work in partnership to market the wines internationally under the label "Elephant on a Tightrope." The wines from these estates are produced in limited quantities, and are an exceptional value.

    Previous Wine & Book Picks

  • March-April Snowflower and the Secret Fan, set in China
  • February Cloudstreet, set in Perth, Australia
  • January  The Good German, set in Berlin
  • December The Historian, set in Eastern Europe
  • November One Good Turn, set in Edinburgh
  • September Lost in the Forest, set in Napa Valley
  • August The Hummingbird's Daughter, set in Mexico
  • July The Devil Wears Prada, set in NYC
  • June Woolf in Ceylon, set in Ceylon
  • May Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living, Australia
  • April The Mermaid Chair, set in South Carolina
  • March Memoirs of a Geisha, set in Japan
  • February Get a Life, set in South Africa
  • January The Shadow of the Wind, set in Barcelona
  • LI>December Pride and Prejudice, set in England
  • November Beyond Measure, set in Rennaissance Italy
  • October Breakfast at Tiffany's, set in New York




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