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)
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!
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!!! :-)
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