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)
Wonderful storytelling with a unique view of a man at 23 and 90=something. I had to listen to it twice because I was so sorry when it ended.
I thought this book was excellent. I couldn't stop listening. The readers were excellent as well. I really enjoyed the old man's portrayal as an elderly Jacob. I highly recommened this book. It is a great example of 'everything happens for a reason.'
I loved this book. It is out of the genre that I normally read (listen to), but it was well worth it. I would be thrilled if the author decided to write a sequel that takes up where this one ends... I so want to find out how the rest of this man's life went and to hear more antedotes from the nursing home. The author did an excellent job decribing the man's feelings while in the nursing home!!!
One of the best books I've listened to in a long while. I downloaded this on the recommendation of a friend who said "not sure why I enjoyed the book - can't really put my finger on it - but it was great". After listening to the audiobook, I'm in complete agreement. Great listen.
One of the best audio books I have listened to this year. Imaginative, creative and entertaining. A great story with great characters. I will be reading her other books.
This was not the typical book for me, but I like to be pleasantly surprised when going off my usual material and authors. I felt that was the case with this book. It was well read and kept my interest from start to finish. Not quite as gripping for me as The Time Traveler's Wife, but thoroughly enjoyable. I think you'll be pleased. I'm giving it five stars, as I am often looking for books that score over 4 stars average as a pretty good indicator of a worthwhile read / listen.
Captivating from the beginning. I loved the voice charactariztion of the narrator. This story moves easily along past and present timelines with unforgettable characters that stayed with me long after I stopped listening. Circus life and the landscape are so richly illlustrated I thought I could taste the food and smell the horses.
I agree with the reviewer that said it was similar to The Time Travelers Wife. Not in content, but in the impact it makes on you. I was very sorry to come to the end of the story and have to start something new. It was very well written and very well read. I really like the young man he was but I LOVE the old man he became.
"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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