Nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. It's the Depression Era and Jacob, finding himself parentless and penniless, joins the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. There he meets the freaks, grifters, and misfits that populate this world. Jacob introduces us to Marlena, beautiful star of the equestrian act; to August, her charismatic but twisted husband (and the circus' animal trainer); and to Rosie, a seemingly untrainable elephant.
Beautifully written, with a luminous sense of time and place, Water for Elephants tells of love in a world in which love's a luxury few can afford.
©2006 Sara Gruen; (P)2006 HighBridge Company
"Water for Elephants resembles stealth hits like The Giant's House, by Elizabeth McCracken, or The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, books that combine outrageously whimsical premises with crowd-pleasing romanticism. . . . With a showman's expert timing, [Gruen] saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale.” (New York Times Book Review)
"Just like a circus, the magic of the story and the writing convince you to suspend your disbelief." (Booklist)
"Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes, and freaks who populate her book." (Publishers Weekly)
I had several people suggest this book but I am not much of a circus person and I really don’t like books about animals so I was hesitant but I am glad I listened. Water for Elephants is a definite must read and I thoroughly enjoyed it - much much better than what I was expecting.
I was really looking forward to reading about how smart elephants are in a story about them or that included them more than this one does. I read to chapter 9 or 10 and finally an elephant was introduced. I am disgusted that there is a titillating and graphic sexual encounter every time the younger reader reads. I read a lot of reviews about this for a long time before I finally bought this book and am very disappointed that I never found this mentioned in the reviews at that point. Am not impressed in this author nor will i read her works again.
It was enchanting, funny, touching and very intriguing...loved this story! You won't be dissappointed.
This book was interesting to get through because of the vivid descriptions of the circus during the depression, and the basic plot line between Jacob, Marlena and August was fascinating. However, as I was reading and the further along I got, the more Jacob (the younger) really annoyed me as a character. I think he was an idiot. Older Jacob was really well narrated.... really felt for him, more than younger Jacob.
This is a story I enjoyed very much and was sorry to have it end. It is well written and well narrated. It is a must listen to, it captures the attention and keeps you wanting for more. I highly recommend this book.
This book is now on my list of favourites in my lifetime. It caught me right from the start and intrigued me until the end of the book. The review of Jacob’s memories of his past life in the depression mixed with his review of life now in a retirement home was both enlightening and humorous. I work in a long term care facility and found hearing the story from Jacob’s perspective was humbling and sent me through a whole raft of emotions. This story is well written, and the narrators did a fantastic job of bringing the story to life.
This is one of the best books I have read since "Soldier in the Great War." I realize now that it has a similar structure for a very compact span of time but I enjoyed it immensely. Very evocative writing. I thought the older voice actor would get on my nerves but the final chapter really gave the character such bravery as a free moving man.
Generally a very good book. It certainly kept my attention as I always like fiction based on stories that are based on history. The history here is the real life in a circus. Although well read for both narrators, the older version of the protagonist was a little harder to listen to and that part of the story dragged a bit. Without blowing the ending, I will say I let the book start over again to listen to the first chapter because I had assumed things that I needed to clarify. I always like that kind of twist. Definitely worth reading.
"Water for Elephants"
Both strangely exotic and nostalgically familiar, this tale of tenderness found in the harsh reality of circus life and enduring love stolen from cruelty is captivating and entrancing. Told through the eyes and voices of an old timer and his younger self, it flips from past to present and back again with ease and manages to bring two stories together with equal strength and interest. A beautiful story that is beautifully read by the narrators.
I listened to this for a second time when I had exhausted my new supply while away.
And it was just as enthralling as the first listen.
Brilliantly written and wonderfully read by the two readers.
I can't recommend it highly enough - one of the best audibles I've listened to.
"A true love story"
A true love story written to thrive in the 21st Centry, from the charactors to the plot line its well written and addictive.........
"The film does not even get close."
I could not put this book down.
I remember exactly where I was when things happened in this book.
The character of the old man is explored to the fullest extend, this character made the story, and was completely overlooked in the film version.
Perfect for a holiday, or summer commutes, as I did.
Unusual subject and not one I would normally choose. It made me laugh and cry. Brilliant. Do read it
I wasn't sure if I was going to like this audiobook when I started listening to it as I found the hopping between the current and past a little hard going and the older person's voice difficult to understand at times. But, I'm glad I perservered with it. The story is very original and draws you in. Worth a listen
"Wonderfully engaging Big Top Book"
This book tells the story of a young man thrown into the life of a circus worker after his parents are killed. The wonderful transition between times takes the listening into two very different but equally compelling settings. Brilliant !!
"Great Original Story"
Great to read an original book for a change. I knew nothing about the american circus trains, and now I do! Takes place during the American Depression. The love story is a bit lame but otherwise a terrific listen.
"I Loved it!"
A really enjoyable listen, on a par with 'The Help'. This has been one of those books I couldn't wait to get back to; it was really well structured and well read, I was thoroughly entertained the whole way through. I highly recommend this audiobook.
"Enjoyed every single second …."
It left me wanting more…. I did not want the story to end. I laughed and cried. This is a tale simply told, an account that was both funny & sad, on times illustrating the cruelty inherent in some human beings and the goodness of others. The narration was outstanding, it brought the wonderful characters to life and I could really see them through ‘Jacobs’ eyes. It also made me think about the value we place on our elderly population. Can’t wait to watch the film, hope it lives up to the book.
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