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)
My computer just deleted my 800 word review, but I liked this book so much that I am starting over and writing anotehr because it would be a sin not to spread the word. This is by far the best audio book I have ever listened to. Certainly not the best literary work of all time, but without doubt the best story ever told. I am an avid reader, and sometimes books don't translate well to the spoken word, but this was written to be read aloud. The narrators are superb. This story should be TOLD, not read. The story telling is so phenomenal you feel like you are there. I was spellbound by both narrators just minutes into the book. I found myself crying like a little girl at times (never did that before) and at others physically furious with the antagonists. Angry! Imagine that, at imaginary characters? That is how engrossing this is. I feel like Jacob is my friend who told me his story, I want to call him on the phone and talk to him more, I will miss not hearing from him.
As a warning: some parts may be a little hard to listen to for the real softies out there, especially the animal lovers. The book isn't vulgar at all, or overly in your face violent, but it is heart wrenching in some places. Don't let that deter you. Get this audio book, you will love it, and you will listen to it over and over.
Live in Sydney, Australia. South African heritage. Love audio books. Constant company on my non-stop business travels.
As a constant consumer of audio books having 'read' 100's, every now and then a book comes along that completely engages the mind, heart and body. Listening to books allows one to engage in activity - driving, exercising, cleaning, work - however 'Elephants' demanded my attention. The richness of the story and the brilliant reading simply combine to create a wonderful experience.
My first ever audible book. A fantastic read, used it for exercising (walking) - my dog wondered why we were walking for so long! Lisa Judd, Christchurch, New Zealand
I laughed. I cried. So will you. A beautifully done book. Essentially it is the flashback of a man who worked for a traveling circus. He was finishing up Vet school when events sent him to the circus. Now, he is at the end of his life so the story jumps effectively between now and then. A "must" title to have in your audivle library.
To be honest I could not even remember what prompted me to download this book but it was highly entertaining. The two narrators, one representing the young, 20-something Jacob, and the other, a 90-something Jacob, are superb. The ending is a bit predictable for the younger Jacob and somewhat of a stretch for the older Jacob but the path the storyline takes to get you there makes it well worth the journey.
What a fabulous tale. Crafted perfectly between the protagonists memories and present life. The details of how he came to be a pseudo veterinarian due to person catastrophe are believable. What a riveting tale!
Really one of the few books that was engaging from beginning to end. Very entertaining and well written. Highly recommended.
"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.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.