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 loved this story by Sara Gruen. My only warning is that if you have a heart that is senstive to animal abuse, you will find parts of this story hard to get through. But if you push through, you will love this story. The ending totally took me by surprise. Loved it.
*THE* most fabulous audible I've listened to ....all other will pale. I was filled with sorrow when it was over....and miss the characters. Will listen to it again, and again.
I was hooked with the narration of this book- it definately added to the reading experience. The plot was good too, with charracter development and interesting plotlines. There were some graphic, uncomfortable parts, but overall I have reccomended this book to several people with varying tastes.
My objection to many modern books is the addition of a last minute character who quickly redirects the flow of the novel from where it would have gone otherwise. I was a hijacked reader who was forced to make a 90 degree turn. The ending was unreasonable and diminished my enjoyment of the book. Frankly, I had written a better ending in my head.
Having said that, both readers did a fantastic job and made the journey up to the last couple of chapters enjoyable.
This is a great story but it only comes alive when listened to - the sequential chapters of the old man and his younger self are wonderfully performed by the readers -- it is worth listening to even if you have already read it!
I have heard wonderful things about Water for Elephants, and this was only my 3rd audiobook. After I started listening and getting into the characters I couldnt stop listening!! I switched off between listening during my walks and listening during my long commutes in the car. The book was so good I actually looked forward to my long drives to and from work. I just finished and I am sad it is over. I definitely recommend getting this book. It had the perfect amount of romance and excitement- a few action scenes as well!
Business consultant specializing in Infusionsoft marketing automation setup for educators and Advertising Sales Rep for Rotating Mass Media
This book was wonderful. I couldn't stop listening as soon as it started. The narration was perfect. I highly recommend this book as a quick listening, entertaining story.
I love to walk and run listening to audiobooks
set against the harsh realities of the traveling circus. The brutality of a few individuals shapes the misery of animals and humans alike. The comraderie amongst the different factions is touching. And the narrator's description of old age is at once humorous and poignant. This is a wonderful read.
I discovered the joy of audiobooks several years ago when I got a job which is a 45 min drive one way. It continued to keep me mostly sane.
I don't write many reviews because not so many stories I listen to mean so much that I want to write one. This is an exception. I've not read Water for Elephants and I don't believe I will. My imagination is pretty good but it won't come as close as narrators David LeDoux and John Randolph Jones to recreating Jacob Jankowski's world. This isn't a complicated story and there aren't alot of twisting subplots. What it is, is a great tale told from either end of a man's life. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good story where the characters come alive and you can smell the circus. Bravo!
"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.