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)
It was wonderful to listen on my Itouch as I made an entire quilt but I enjoyed the actors who read and I have recommended it to many of my friends. Easy way to pick up an audible book.
I tried my best to listen to this book. It is well written and expertly narrated, but I became so sickened at the animal abuse I had to stop listening shortly into part 2. If you love animals and hate the abuse that circus animals have always suffered, your heart will break. I wish I hadn't started listening to it... it will haunt me for quite some time.
I loved this book from start to finish. I didn't want it to end. Beautifully written! I recommended this book to everyone and will continue to do so. LOVED IT!!
It's one of the best fiction books I've read, if not the best. The reading is absolutely spectacular and it's what gives this book a big part of it's appeal. Loved it from start to finish. It's a great story, with some great twists and it keeps you wanting to read one more page (minute) all through the book.
Gripping from start to finish. I loved the characters, and the story, while giving few surprises, is very well told and interesting. I particularly loved the author's ability to show the perspective of the main character in old age and as a youth. The scenes and insights into aging and living in an institution were particularly powerful and very well written. I loved the ending, but hated to say goodbye to the people I met in the story.. it was that good.
Long time audible fan, with wide ranging tastes. Have never written a review but this book was wonderful. Maybe it caught me at the right mood but it was enchanting. I simply don't want to listen to anything else for awhile but just mull over this story. Awesome narration too.
This book is wonderful!! Narration is fabulous and very believable... The story line keeps you guessing all throughout and the ending is simply beautiful.... for all those that dreamed of running away to the circus.. this one's for you!
I loved this book and the narration is outstanding...you feel as if you are listening to your own grandfather tell the wondereous tales of his growing older from adolescent to old age..its captivating from beginning to end. I have told everyone I know they MUST listen to this audio book.
The premise of running off to join the circus during the Depression sounds intriguing. But the book didn't live up to the glowing reviews from other listeners.
I loved the two narrators, one 90 or 93 and the other 23. I had never really thought about life with the circus. This was a very entertaining and heartfelt 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.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.