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 is two stories, a challenged man in his 20's, and the same man challenged at 90 (or 93, what year is this?), each leading with humor and fantastic suspence to an inevitable disaster, or, well, jeeze, just listen to the story! You'll respect elephants so much more afterwards.
The book took some time to get going. The character development is excellent, the story is compelling, and I'm really happy to have taken the time to listen. A wonderful story definitely worth the credits.
Listen to about four audio books a months. Never without one.
I hesitated to purchase this book because of all the hype. I did not read reviews prior to listening to it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I thought having two narrators really enhanced the book. Both narrators did an excellent job. It was fun to read about something I know nothing about. It also reinforced to me how fast time flies by and the young will soon become the old.
One star short of five because little was said about his children and what motivated them to not take him in. Still, a very enjoyable book!
A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!
This is a thoroughly enjoyable listen due to the excellent narrator and well told story. The two narrators enhance the story and help bring the stories to life. While the story may come across as somewhat cliche at times, it is worthy of the listen.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The use of two narrators was done very well. The love story line was somewhat predictable (thus the 4 stars and not 5), but the insight into circus life in the 30's was great. And the ending fit well, even though I didn't expect it. The book had been recommended to me long ago and they were right; it was very good. I have recommended it all of my friends!
Literary graduate and published columnist turned glorified grease monkey.
fantastic story line here. Even though it travels back and forth between past and present, it is easy to follow due to 2 different narrators. Showed an interesting side to being old. Funny ending and very comfortable story line. Characters are well developed and I was very drawn into the book. Great stuff.
I really enjoyed this book. I saw other reviewers liked the book so decided to try it. It was written and narrated beautifully. I really felt like I was part of the circus. The author invites you into the society without ovewhelming you with too much info.
Say something about yourself!
if you like long stories that make you laugh and at the end make you think.. this is it. dont turn from this book get it and enjoy it.. i talked about this story for weeks.
This is a great book, you will not be able to stop listening. The narration is one of the best I have heard so far, having two different voices for the character definitely transport you in time. You can almost feel like you're inside the story.
"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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