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)
Glad to be part of the audible community and I hope that my reviews help to choose the right book and share my love of reading.
Despite the profanity - this book is well written and I enjoyed both narrators very much. I gave it 4 stars because after reading the summary I thought the author would go more into depths of the "behind the scenes" of the circus. However, that being said, the author captures the diverse characters really well and shows insight to some of the characters that you cannot help but being touched. Despite taking the Lord's name in vain (constantly) and profanity, I did like the book. Ms. Gruen, keep writing, but please refrain from all those bad words!
This is by far one of the best read books I have gotten from Audible, and I've been a member for about 5 years. It's one of those that is more fun to listen to than to read. And, of course the story is excellent Enjoy!
This was a very moving story. Really well written, and the narrators were perfect. I loved the characters, how the author described things, without droning on and on like some authors do. And the ending was perfect, and a little unexpected. I had to swallow back the tears. The only reason I gave it 4 and not 5 stars was because it was slow to get going. With a little patience, you won't be sorry.
I loved this story but the show stealer is really John Randolph Jones with a completely mesmeric narration of the older character. There are some memorable characters, as one would expect in the midst of a 1930s travelling circus. The ending was a bit too cutesy for me and I didn't really buy it, which is why I stopped short of the 5 stars, but its still a quite delightful novel and I would recommend it very highly.
I consider a book good when I'm unable to put it down/turn it off. It took me 3 days to complete. Good Luck with the movie:-)
Now back to the housework.
Being a senior citizen, I listened to this story from the old man's point of view, and found it very touching. Yes, there were explicit scenes, but that's a young man speaking about his lifes experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and cheered at the end!
I really wanted to love this book but the repeated cruelty to the animals and women made it impossible for me to do so. The story is sad, despite the "happy" ending - the characters are lost and forlorn, with no real hope for a better life. I am not deterred by a tragic story but for some reason, I thought this book was going to be uplifting, and it's not. That being said, it is extremely well written, with incredible imagery. I will look forward to reading others of Sara Gruen's books - she has a magical grasp of language.
The old and young narrators both did a really good job on this audio book. Obviously the young sections were where all the action happened but the older rememberance tied it all together and added a layer of a life well lived... and then what? It was a good listen.
"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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