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 guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.
This is a classic example of a book being much better than its movie. If you want theatrics listen to the audiobook because it has a lot of suspense. When you can't put down an audiobook, it means you have headphones on when you are making dinner, eating lunch, doing laundry, at the grocery, etc. etc. That was me with this book.
a great story and beautifully narrated. loved the two voices of jacob and all of the characters through the book. sometimes was hard to listen to the cruelty to rosie and imagining the awful lives of some of the animals especially the polar bear locked in a cage in the heat of a sweltering summer in america.
What a pleasant surprise. As a lover of historical fiction, I really enjoyed this story set mostly in Depression-era America about, of all things, a young verterinarian who joins a circus. The two narrators, the young and elderly version of the main character, add depth to an already-captivating story. The book is also a tale of life and adventure on the American railroad. This was the era that my parents grew up in and I could hear my father in the pitch-perfect voice of the older Jacob.
I enjoyed this immensely. The two narrators David LeDoux and John Randolph Jones do a fine job. The story flows well, and the atmosphere is strong, and authentic. The story loses a star for two reasons: First, despite Jacob's good nature, he has a complete lack of self-awareness, and the author seems unaware of this. Second, the story ultimately ignores Rosie. I'll say no more, or I'd be a spoiler.
This book was recommended to me a year or more ago and when I recently joined audible I found it on the top picks list and thought "a sign". I love to listen while working out on the treadmill. Suffice to say this was such "a fabulous read" I would ADD time just to listen longer. I will treasure it always!
There aren't that many books written in the first person, by an old man reminiscing. Nor are there many books written about circus life. This book compared favorable with the two others I've read. The plot was a bit predictable, but all in all it was a memorable read. It brought you back to the Great Depression & the hardness of life. It also introduced you to characters who made the best of things & developed friendships & loyalties along the way.I loved the animals, each with his/her personality. I thought this was a part that could have been expanded on. I cared about the people, and both endings were completely satisfying. In fact, I wish the story had continued a little more. And yes, I did sit in my car to finish chapters.
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!
Addicted to Audible!
This is the first audiobook I have listened to twice. It was truly my favorite book of the year. I selected it for my book club and everyone was unanimous in their praise for the story.Jacob at 90 "or 93" touched us all and made us think about how we treat our old. The story of young Jacob was fast moving and kept my attention. I think this book was greatly enhanced by the excellent perfomances of the 2 readers. I have recommended Water for Elephants to everyone I know. Dont miss this one! It' a gem!
I really loved that audiobook. One of the rare
book that I will remember. The 'old' segment
of the listen was especially touching.
Not sure when another audiobook experience will
match this one it actually made me want to live a fuller life. Better get going.
This book revolves around a veterinarian named Jacob Jankowski who fell on hard times during the Great Depression and ended up joining the circus as the exotic animal veterinarian. The book switches back and forth from the 93 year-old Jacob to his memories of his youth. It was a fascinating look at life in the circus – from its spectacular shows with animals and acrobats, romances and friendships, to the terrifying way this ring leader treated animals, workers who were thrown from the train when not needed, and the extreme poverty of the 1930’s. You will learn a lot about elephants, and the elephant, Rosie, definitely stole every scene she was in. At the end of the book I wanted to reach out to the old man Jacob and hug him. The narration was perfect.
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