This was one of the most memorable novels I have read in the last few years.
The narrator, Jacob, is “ninety or ninety-three” and lives in a nursing home. The arrival of the circus next store leads him to reflect on his experiences working on a circus during the depression. I have never been to the circus but Gruen makes the days when the circus was still a big event come to life.
Several things make this story stand out. First, instead of the usual format where the elderly person only appears to introduce a flashback, in Water For Elephants, the story alternates between Jacob’s present life in the nursing home and his life as a young man in the circus. In the audio version, there are separate narrators for the younger Jacob and the older Jacob. This makes it easy to tell where you are and adds to the realism.
At first I found myself wanting to get out of the nursing home and back to the circus, but by the end I cared as much about what was going to happen to the elderly Jacob and I did about learning the secret of his past. Even so, I thought the writing about the circus was especially powerful. Gruen’s ability to evoke the world of the depression-era circus reminded me of Ann Rice’s ability to make me feel that I am in New Orleans. She puts you in the menagerie with the animals, and Rosie, the elephant, is a character you won’t soon forget.
Finally, there is a surprise at the end, which leaves you feeling happier than you expected.
This is a relatively short book that I think anyone who loves animals will enjoy.
Semi-retired ENT doctor who listens to books while making a 55 minute commute to work two days a week.
As a senior citizen, this book was great. The author really knows nursing home life. This is a wonderful story, well witten and very well spoken. I liked the surprise ending.
...couldn't wait to take a walk with the ipod or keep driving to get to hear what happened next... Get ready to take a trip back in time.
I really enjoyed the readers as well. They became the characters for me, both at 20 years old and at 90... or 93.
I loved this book. I had it downloaded for 3 or 4 months before I got around to it. The reviews were good but I was not compelled to listen to it. I am so glad I started this book. The story and the narrators brought this book to life. I cried, cringed in horror and outrage, laughed out loud and grew attached to these characters. I even caught myself to some of the facial movements that were described in the book. I enjoyed this book so much that I got it for my sister and recommend it to everyone I know with Audible. I check very ofter for other books by the author.
This was one of the most enjoyable books I have ever listened to. It was about life, death, aging,relationships, animals, people and it had a great sense of humor as well. I was so sad when it ended- going to be hard to find another book as good as this one.....but I'll keep trying!
This was probably the best Audio book I have heard in over 10 years of traveling and listening to Audies. I have an 88 year old father, or 90, and it made me really think about the daily things he must be thinking as he thinks back on his full life and large family. An incredibly simple story but with characters you care about from the first chapter on. Incredible.
This audiobook was a joy to listen to. It was definitely well written and seemed to portray the Depression-era realistically. The plot was complex and, at no point, boring. The book has all the elements of a great story - love, hate, revenge, animals, and a dwarf...you will get to experience a full range of emotions with the interesting characters. I especially enjoyed the first person narrative way the story was told and the narrators were both awesome!
Good book, good narration.
I hate the music at what was probably the beginning and end of each CD on the original recording. It's goofy and distracting to have to listen to music over the narration.
A very interesting group of characters. Set during the depression, life takes a turn for this this soon-to-be college graduate. An animal lover myself, I enjoyed learning a little about the elephant and other animal antics. While the nursing home scenes made me laugh, they also made me sad for the 90+year old "prisoners" of their own bodies and circumstances. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it with no reservations.