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)
Both the young and the old main character are wonderfully portrayed in this book with excellent readers. I was left at the end wishing for more.
This is one of the BEST books that I have ever listened to. It was a real plus having the voices of the older and younger main character being so real! I wish that other works of this author were available.....
After all of the glowing recommendations I had heard for this book, I expected something more than this naive fairy tale for adults. I enjoyed the picture that the book painted of life in the circus but the mostly one-dimensional characters and the many over-obvious plot devices made me distrust the one element of this disappointing book that I did enjoy. Read "Modoc" instead if you are interested in elephants and the circus
Outstanding book, but an absolutely stellar performance by John Randolph Jones as the main character at age 90 (or 93). Mr. Jones was simply brilliant. Not to take away from the book, which is a terrific read (listen).
First, the negative: The music played is distracting and hard to hear over. It needs to be edited out or made to be less loud!
The good... Mr. Jones is an amazing narrator and PERFECT for this role. He gave it life. While I like the whole book, I enjoyed the portions of Jacob at 90, or 93, the best. It woke me up. Maybe it wasn't meant to do that, but it did. I saw how my grandparents must be thinking right now. They are close to 90 and alone. Not married to each other anymore, and alone. I need to go see them more often and ask them about them. Not talk about the weather and chit chat. I want to know what they are thinking. I want to pay attention.
The story was really great and I loved it once I got into it. I am glad it was recommended to me. I had no idea what it was about when I bought it as I feel if a friend recommends a book, I should read it. So I did! I was surprised, not shocked, but surprised about the ending of Jacob at 23 and what happened... Read it!
A well written book is a gem.
I considered this book just 'OK', sorry. I saw lots of people liked it so I gave it a try. I thought the premise was good - a man looses everything and then finds himself in circus in the 30's. But there wasn't any depth to the story or the characters. With the exception of the old gentleman, all the characters very flat and predictable. Narration was excellent.
If you like characterizations on the level of Dudly Doright and Snidely Whiplash then this book is for you
This book was highly recommended to me by a friend, and I am equally enthusiastic. The narrators are excellent, and add greatly to the enjoyment of the book. I was sorry to reach the end of the book, but the conclusion was satisfying - if implausible. Suspend your disbelief and let yourself be carried away by the magic of the circus.
This is an extaordinary story during a difficult time in our past. Brilliant in its writing and expertly read. Don't miss this one.
"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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