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 found this audio to be very entertaining. A bit slow getting started by it certainly kept me entertained while doing more mundane tasks.
This book deserves more than 5 stars. Has all the ingredients to make it interesting and entertaining: good voices in narration, history, interesting characters, animals, romance, a couple of mean villians, and several unlikely heros. There are some unexpected surprises too.
All coming from a sleeper of a book and author.
One of the best stories I have read (or heard) in a long time. I couldn't wait to listen each day but didn't want it to end.
I loved this from the moment I put it into the player. The narrator is excellent; conveys emotion and is easy to listen too. I loved the story although at times it is a little sad and traumatic. Fantastic, bravo. I can't wait for Sara Gruen to write another.
I read like a madwoman all my life but now I have bad eyes. Thank goodness for audio books
Thank you for recommending this book to me it was delightful. There were some scenes that might have been "adult" If it weren't for that it would be a good story for all ages. The Circus comes to life and so does the hard times that my parent's generation lived through during the depression.
Great frame story with wonderfull naration for both characters. The contrast settings of circus and nursing home with great details and characters inhabiting both made it a worthwhile listen. At one point the plot got tied up a little too neatly for my taste but, ending was clever and quite satisfying nonetheless. Have to admit I was near the end of the book before I realized it was sort of a romance novel and at that point I was so intriged that it didn't matter.
Water for Elephants is one of the most depressing story lines I've read in quite some time. Sara Gruen is an excellent writer and it is her turn of words that kept me listening to the very end. On the positive side, the ending is great - it made me want to cheer aloud! If you enjoy excellent writing that allows you to conjure a vivid mental picture of each scene, you won't be disappointed. The character development is fabulous and you'll have friends and enemies among them.
I just finished this book, and I already miss the characters. Both interesting and entertaining, this book had characters I grew to care deeply about and the best narration I've experienced in any audio book. Brilliant!
Fascinated by the circus trains of Ringling Brothers' Circus in my homestate, this story, my first audiobook, was a wonderful introduction to having stories read to me as I travel. Though I cared more for the memories and struggles of the older character, the story overall was captivating and dear. I learned to my dismay that I neglected to put part 2 on my device though before a trip.... Augh!
"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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