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)
Loyal Traveling Listener
This is the greatest book I've read in a long time. The way it's read is great. I've always loved circuses but this book gave a different view of things as seen from a circus workers' eye. I recomend this book to anyone who loves a real good read. Loved it!
This book is read by two readers representing two stages of life of the main character. The sections that take place at age 93 are fantastic -- well written, heartfelt, engrossing, and real. The other sections are incredibly flat, one dimensional, and a chore to get through. I rolled my eyes often. It is almost as if there were two authors. Were there? Fortunately, it pays off emotionally at the end of the story quite well. A mediocre book with a wonderful ending provides a worthwhile experience. Better than a great book with an unsatisfying ending.
At the begining of the year Water for Elephants came to my attention when it received some awards so I added it to my wishlist. That was a mistake! Do yourself a favor, download and listen to this book now. Don't let it sit in your wish list for months like I did.
I have over 200 books in my Audible Library and this book is one of my top five favorites.
Here is a book that is beautifully conceived, wonderfully written and artfully read. This story struck an emotional chord that resonates in my heart, mind and soul.
This superbly crafted tale is a glorious display if readers appropriate sharing a story. Whether the story encouraged a five stars rating from me (a pretty darn unusual rating for me to bestow) or the whether great readers made the grade is interesting to ponder. Probably both, but maybe the readers created the mental images which still reverberate in the back of my mind days after finishing the book. The narrator in the story is an elderly man, reliving the most riveting experience of his life. Perhaps he didn’t realize it while he lived it, but now, mind sharp and body aged, he knows that summer was the exclamation point in his life. The conclusion of the book confirms the narrator’s suspicion of the importance of his experiences. If you’re looking for a good tale to keep your mind engaged and on “the edge of the seat” you’ll be happy with this choice.
This work is beautifully written and more importantly, it was mesmerizing to listen to. If you enjoyed "Shadow of the Wind" you will love this book. I highly recommend it.
I loved this book because it was something different, not the same old rehashed idea. If your looking for a great story and a new topic, than this is a great read. Can't wait for more from this author
The audiobook format was perfect for this book since it features Jacob Jankowski when he is in his 20s during the depression and currently when he is in his 90s (is it 90 or 93?)in a nursing home. No matter what his age, he (Gruen) is a great storyteller. Great insight into circus-lore and the depression -- great insight into aging! Wonderful story well done!
This is absolutely one of the best books I have listened to. I cringed at some of the descriptions of the animal "incidents", but I persevered through them and I am so glad I did. The story is great and the two narrators are fantastic. Definitely worth listening to.
This was one of those books you eagerly anticipate listening to, so you can see what happens next. While the book was wonderful, I loved the narration by the old man. He so sincerely described the aches, cares, regrets and joys of his life, doing it so vividly that I felt what that man must have felt... now THAT'S a good book.
"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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