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)
Starts off a little slow, but soon becomes an interesting look at a man when he is young and when he is 90 (or 93 he's not sure) reminiscing on his youth when he worked for "the greatest show on earth" triggered by an upcoming treat of a circus visit organised by the aged care home he lives in.
The use of two different people make the age difference believable..I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
This book has a dark and realistic tempo of life in the circus during the depression. I compliment the research for this book creating a sound and imaginative storyline. A story of brutality as well as friendship. Great character development leaving you wanting more but not lost without development. A wonderful story for animal lovers and another unique love story for couples against the odds. Narration was recorded like they were talking to you, I appreciated that most. It felt very evocative and real. On an entirely different note it allows you to be in the shoes of a 90 something year old man and feel how we treat our mature population in a unique, non-judgemental way. You will be left pondering in a very good way. Without giving away the ending all I can say is, I clapped. Bravo!
THIS BOOK BRINGS TO REALITY THE THINKING OF THE AGING IN A VERY VIVID WAY. AS AN RN IT DID OPEN MY EYES TO THE AGED PATIENTS I HAVE DEALT WITH. I HOPE I WILL BE MORE UNDERSTANDING TO THEIR NEEDS SINCE READING THIS BOOK. I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT THE BAD LANGUAGE.
However, Ms. Gruen's writing was so visual and descriptive I was there as the story was told. Her change of the main character telling his story from the age of 23 to 90 (or 93) was seamless. I was mesmerized. I hope you will be as well.
Great narration. Good ending. It took almost all of part one to get me interested though. I don't like hearing about animal cruelty and human cruelty both of which are prevalent in this book. A depressing look at aging as well. It just wasn't in my top 25.
Great Narration! This novel was such a pleasure & visual candy! Enjoyed it to the very end & was dissapointed when it finished.
I am an educated Southerner, plowing through books at the speed of light. I love good stories, good coffee, and good conversation.
This book is very much worth listening to. I think what really makes this book -- besides the compelling, well-paced storyline and beautiful love story -- is the narration. It is so believable and in the moment. I could not stop listening!
This was such a very good story; heartwarming, tragic, heroic, entertaining. Life on a circus from behind the scenes in a depression era America. Something happening in every chapter and a great ending.
This book gives an excellent insight in to elderly life. A well researched book with wonderfull anecdotal information about the circus life of old, a sad comment on how we treat the elderly and the meaning of life for an elderly person. An extrememly good read.
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