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)
This was one of the very best audio productions I've heard but the characters in the story were too one-dimensional for me. If you like your villains thoroughly evil this is the book for you! I also had a very hard time listening to the descriptions of animal cruelty and skipped over a couple of particularly nasty descriptions.
Interesting novel but the characters needed to be more developed.
The reading of this book provided a dimension that I do not think could be captured by reading it to your self. It made me glad that I bought the audio book instead of the bound volume.
I was worried that this was going to be a "chick book," especially since most of the reviews I read were from women. This book does have a love story in it, but it's definitely not just for women, it's a very good story. I could have done with less of the old man, but over all I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it.
The only thing bad I can say about this book is that it ended! The story is told from two time periods, one from the young Jacob, and one from the older Jacob. I learned a lot about the nitty gritty of circus life in the depression era. I highly recommend this book, and I really enjoyed the narration as well. Great story including love, youth, old age, loss, and joy.
This is an entertaining novel with very effective narration. The use of two readers, one as "young" Jacob and one as "old" Jacob is very helpful in navigating the leaps between flashbacks and current day. The story of Jacob's time in the circus keeps the reader involved while older Jacob undergoes the trials of growing old and no longer being able to care for himself. An interesting look into the depression era circus as well as the psyche of an aging man.
Loved this audiobook x a million. It was amazing. There has always been a part of me that has often wondered about the inner workings of the circus behind all the smoke and mirrors. Ending was a little too predictable but the road that leads you there is scenic.
This book is written in flashback form which is very poignant. The two narrators are wonderful and impart the main character's story with sincerity and good humor. I could hardly put this one down. A must for anyone who deals with the elderly, loves animals or just enjoys the circus!
I had heard so much about this book; however, my work schedule prevented me from actually picking it up to read. Thus, I finally listened to it during my commute. It is an incredible book. It gave me insight into circuses. More importantly, it gave me insight into the endurance of the human psyche. Well worth the listen.
Way to go Joseph!!!What a great ending. I am an RN and have spent time in various capacities in a nursing home. Joseph's descriptions and feeling of what was going on around him were so accurate. What a great book....such sweet revenge!
"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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