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)
Couldn't put it down - stayed with this story hour after hour. Takes the listener to a time and place not often visited. Invests the listener in the lives and well-being of its characters. Compelling story - well written, nicely narrated.
I love books on the circus. After the rave reviews I had high expectations. I found the story boring, the narration silly, and the characters one-dimensional. Very disappointing.
The things I know for sure I am are: Christian, Wife, Mother, Daughter, Granddaughter, Sister, American, Patriot, Friend, Teacher, Student, Seeker, and Thinker. I am far from perfect but I do try to be kind, honest, honorable, trusting and trustworthy. Lover of sunshine, books, southern food, vacations in national parks, singing in my car, cookie dough and icing, and cucumber margaritas.
I have to give this book 5 giant stars on every level.. plot, characters, narration.
This is just one of the best choices in books I made in 2006. The book was excellent, but the narration made the book even better! Don't judge this book by its cover. I bypassed it on several occasions because the cover made it look like "not my kind of book", but it is just such a charming and heart warming story. Loved it. Take a chance with this one. You just will fall in love with these characters. Its like they are real. I am sad the book is over...
I purchased this based on listener reviews and was not let down. It was one of my favorite listens of 2006--sweet, romantic, funny and exciting. The voice of David LeDoux (young Jacob) reminded me very much of an actor named Jonathan Woodward (from episodes of Buffy and Firefly); for me there is a permanent mental picture of him inserted into the narrative (and in a film version, he would make a wonderful Jacob). John Randolph Jones grabbed my heart even more--he was so perfect in his reading.
I sent the book to my 93 (yes, 93) year old Grandmother--I only wish she could hear the audio version of the novel and experience it like I did.
Water for Elephants has all the elements of great fiction. It transports a reader to the facinating life of a traveling circus..and at the same time, beautifully and insightfully speaks to the one thing we all have in common one way or another....growing old. But, what really sets this audiobook apart, is the deliciously cantankerous narration of the aging Jacob who brings his chapters alive when juxtaposed to the rest of this wonderful story. His voice growls and gurgles with the richness of a long long life.
Water for Elephants was superbly written and very believably narrated. I completely lost myself in the story as it rippled back and forth over a seventy year time span. Sara Gruen is a new author to keep an eye (or an ear) on. GREAT STORY!!!
I thought this was a really interesting book the way it went back in time but kept coming back to the reality of old age and all the condescending ill-treatment and disrespect that goes with it. I was enthralled and had to keep listening until the end. A great writer and I definitely recommend this book.
This is an amazing book..the best audio book I've listened to since utilizing the Audible service. Well narrated, moving story, compelling characters, and an important reminder to not take our octogenarians and nonogenarians for granted..what amazing stories are out there that we are missing? I'm so glad I listened to this one!!
This is a wonderful book. It touches the heart with the pain of aging. It shows so clearly how the past is contained within the present. I loved finding out about the depression era circus and the difficulties in just living. But the main character, himself troubled, had a wonderful, albeit difficult life. The love that was his raison d'etre was wonderful to read about. And if the ending was not quite believable it was what we all wanted and would want for ourselves.
The credit for this great listen really must go in part to the incredible narrators; beautifully voiced. Full of passion, I felt the emotion in his voice so many times it brought tears to my eyes. This is a well written book and an easy read. However as others have noted - quite difficult to listen to if you have a great love and devotion for animals as I do. I have never gone to circus' for that reason so I am not sure why I chose to read this. But it was quite terrific.
"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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