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 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!
John Randolph Jones' narration was the bright spot in this one. In the middle I found myself waiting for the end, not because I was enthralled, but more because I wanted to get on to my next book.
What a gifted storyteller - the dual readers gave depth to the tale - this is definitely a novel worth listening to.
My husband and I both loved, loved, loved this book! Beautifully written and perfectly read, especially the voice of the old man. I highly recommend this one.
This book was extremely enjoyable to listen to. Both narrators did a great job creating the persona of Jacob. Although the main plot line is a love story, the better aspect of the story was a look into how quickly life passes us by and what is important. I downloaded based on reviews that I have read that said it wasn't too sappy and that while it was a love story, it wasn't like a 'chick flick'...which is true.
This is a fun story, with richly developed characters. The narrators are talented, particularly the actor who narrates the elderly version of the main character.
I had several people suggest this book but I am not much of a circus person and I really don’t like books about animals so I was hesitant but I am glad I listened. Water for Elephants is a definite must read and I thoroughly enjoyed it - much much better than what I was expecting.
I was really looking forward to reading about how smart elephants are in a story about them or that included them more than this one does. I read to chapter 9 or 10 and finally an elephant was introduced. I am disgusted that there is a titillating and graphic sexual encounter every time the younger reader reads. I read a lot of reviews about this for a long time before I finally bought this book and am very disappointed that I never found this mentioned in the reviews at that point. Am not impressed in this author nor will i read her works again.
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