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 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.
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
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