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 bought this book last year because it was rate so well. I put off reading it because I thought it might be childish or too simplistic because it dealt with the circus. Boy was I WRONG! It was so fascinating to listen to the stories of the circus and everything involved with. It is almost like another world, I have to admit I haven't been to the circus since I was a kid but I want to go now!!! :-)
This is only the 2nd review I have written . . . and this is the 2nd most WONDERFUL story I have listened to in a very very long time.
I cannot help but be reminded of "Little Big Man" in the almost epic quality and history of the story - as well as the attitude and "voice" of the storyteller. This tale entwined the magic that is the circus with the magic of love and lust and greed and all things human. And besides . . . it was entertaining as Barnum & Bailey themselves! I loved the connection with the animals . . . and the description of the era. I have nothing but praise for this "read". Who will write the screenplay? It will be in theatres for sure!
I enjoyed this book, thought the two narrators were excellent and the storyline was intriguing. However the main character didn't resonate with me, he was very two dimensional.
I loved this book.
Not only were the personalities of the main characters richly conveyed -- the circus animals were vividly painted as well. Though at times, I felt like shaking the main character and saying "what are you thinking?" -- I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
I really liked this book. It chronicals the characters well. You feel like you are part of the story line. I had no idea what circuis life was like in the 20's & 30's. I recommend this book.
This is a wonderful story - at times stark and sad, at times lovely and touching. I loved the ending. The narrators were convincing - I was at the circus, then I was at the nursing home. Thank you, Ms. Gruen! Excellent!
From my first listen, I knew I did not want this book to end. A wonderfully written, poignant tale of the life of a kind, gentle, man forced into situations one can only imagine. Today, I finished "Water for Elephants" and I feel bereft that I can not continue. I can't wait to discuss this book at my book club.
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