SPOILER ALERT ** SPOILER ALERT ** SPOILER ALERT
If you plan on reading it still, stop here because I have no option but to go into detail about its many faults.
The author included a prologue (for what purpose, I am unsure) that drew the reader in, making her think that this book was filled with action and suspense. But when you finish the book, you realize the prologue served absolutely no role and makes you think that an editor somewhere pulled out the most exciting part of the book and threw it in a prologue to generate interest and book sales. Seriously, this is the most action this book sees and it doesn't come to the very end. And it comes in a way that is so unrealistic and absurd that you think the author must have been under a deadline and had to wrap things up quickly.
The book story is framed with the recollections of a very old man, in his nineties and chapter one actually begins with him speaking about his age and how once you hit ninety you can't exactly recall your age. (Okay, I feel like that in my thirties, but whatever.)
So the story is divided between his life now in a nursing home and his recollections from his early twenties when he joins a circus when his parents die in a car crash (I kid you not; I can't make this stuff up.)
He somehow becomes the circus veterinarian in a period of a night and makes friends with the stars of the show (equestrian director and female star). In between this, there are weird sexually explicit and random scenes that don't quite fit within the book (again, makes you think an editor had a heavy hand in the book) and then the circus acquires an elephant (I won't bore you with the details).
It turns out the equestrian director is crazy and beats the elephant because the elephant does not move on command. And it "pains" the narrator so much that he just sits on his rear end doing nothing to help the elephant as he gets beat over and over. (Huh? I don't get it. Why make such a mundane character? Who wants to read about a wimp main character who can't even stand up for an elephant who is physically abused? Weird.)
Meanwhile, some strange relationship is growing between the main character and the female star of the show. The main character unlocks the mystery as to why the elephant won't move (only speaks Polish) and then the equestrian director has a major freak out and the female star leaves him and professes her undying love for the main character. But now they are being "hunted" by the ringmaster and need a quick out of the circus and wouldn't you know there's a stampede in the circus and everyone dies but the two main characters. SO STUPID.
In between all of this complete chaos, the main character is telling us his woes about nursing home life and how his kids don't care about him and how he thinks he's getting Alzheimer's because he can't recognize anyone. As luck would have it, there's a circus in town right across the street from his nursing home, so he sneaks out and literally joins the circus again.
This was really one of the dumbest books I have read in a long time. Unrealistic events took place just to make the story; it felt schizophrenic and unorganized. And nothing really happened and when it did, you were left wondering how that happened.
Normally books are better than movies, but in this case anything has to be better, so maybe the movie will be decent.
Verdict: Avoid It If At All Possible