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 had picked up this book in the store a few times and didn't think I would enjoy a book about a circus or circus life. I decided to pick up this audiobook on a sale day, and I am glad I did. It is so much more than a circus book, and it has stayed with me. I adored the narration of Jacob at 90 (or 93), and my heart went out to him as he described his existence at this stage of life. The description of life during the Depression was interesting and sad, and the characters were well developed.
It is true, as another reviewer mentioned, that there is some explicit language and raunchy situations, but it is done with humor and is relevant to the story. That being said, the book is not appropriate for children, but a definite thumbs up from me!
I could kick myself for waiting so long to listen to this. This is one of the best audible books I've listened to. Great book! Can't wait for the movie.
If you want to try out an audio book this one is great. The narrators really bring the story alive. Can't wait for the movie to come out. I really loved the ending.
I enjoyed the younger life the best until the very end when I decided I liked the older portion, too. It's nice to "take a trip" when you read a book. This one took me to a colorful circus.
I thought this book was very good. And both readers were rigth for their age in his ilfe. I've heard it will be a movie so I'll watch for it in the coming year.
I found the beginning a little hard to get into, but once i had listened to it a while the characters really began to develop and the story had me hooked. Great Book!
Just get it, I swear you will be entertained. The naration is spot on, and the charaters are as well drawn as it gets.
Gruen did an absolute amazing job with the imagery in her novel Water for Elephants. The circus is a colorful and exciting spectacle, and she was able to capture the beauty of it. On the other hand, in the midst of the excitement she painted a darker picture of the underlying world that puts that whole show together. From the dark characters, to the animals, and even to the conditions in which they live, Gruen captured all of this in both beautiful and grotesque imagery. Fantastic read, highly recommend to anyone who appreciates attention to detail and a good story.
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