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)
This superbly crafted tale is a glorious display if readers appropriate sharing a story. Whether the story encouraged a five stars rating from me (a pretty darn unusual rating for me to bestow) or the whether great readers made the grade is interesting to ponder. Probably both, but maybe the readers created the mental images which still reverberate in the back of my mind days after finishing the book. The narrator in the story is an elderly man, reliving the most riveting experience of his life. Perhaps he didn’t realize it while he lived it, but now, mind sharp and body aged, he knows that summer was the exclamation point in his life. The conclusion of the book confirms the narrator’s suspicion of the importance of his experiences. If you’re looking for a good tale to keep your mind engaged and on “the edge of the seat” you’ll be happy with this choice.
This work is beautifully written and more importantly, it was mesmerizing to listen to. If you enjoyed "Shadow of the Wind" you will love this book. I highly recommend it.
I loved this book because it was something different, not the same old rehashed idea. If your looking for a great story and a new topic, than this is a great read. Can't wait for more from this author
The audiobook format was perfect for this book since it features Jacob Jankowski when he is in his 20s during the depression and currently when he is in his 90s (is it 90 or 93?)in a nursing home. No matter what his age, he (Gruen) is a great storyteller. Great insight into circus-lore and the depression -- great insight into aging! Wonderful story well done!
This is absolutely one of the best books I have listened to. I cringed at some of the descriptions of the animal "incidents", but I persevered through them and I am so glad I did. The story is great and the two narrators are fantastic. Definitely worth listening to.
This is a wonderful book, and also one of the best narrations I've encountered in an audiobook. The two narrators are excellent actors, and I was quickly engaged in both. The humor in the book was brought out extremely well by the narrators, and I laughed a lot while listening. In the last three hours, I could not stop listening - but now that it's over I'm sad to be done with it.
From the beginning to the end of this tale I felt like I was in the skin of character. His love for the animals and his lady gave me insight to the life during the depression and life in the circus. The author and narrator(s) did a great job of keeping it real and making me feel the heartbeat of plot.
I got so much out of this book told in two voices; the man at 23 and the same man at 93. It was an astounding story. I thought about it for days after finishing.
This story of a veterinary student who loses everything and joins a circus is told through the eyes of a young man and the old man he becomes. It is a touching and tender story of love and loss, richly drawn with characters you'll remember long after you finish the book. The readers - one young, the other old - are exceptional.
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