Water for Elephants: A Novel

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Water for Elephants: A Novel

by Sara Gruen

HarperCollins | April 6, 2007 | Trade Paperback

Water for Elephants: A Novel is rated 4.4237 out of 5 by 119.

The runaway international bestseller by “the must-read author of summer” (Ottawa Citizen)

Orphaned and penniless at the height of the Depression, Jacob Jankowski escapes everything he knows by jumping on a passing train—and inadvertently runs away with the circus. So beginsWater for Elephants, Sara Gruen’s darkly beautiful tale about the characters who inhabit the less-than-greatest show on earth.

Jacob finds a place tending the circus animals, including a seemingly untrainable elephant named Rosie. He also comes to know Marlena, the star of the equestrian act—and wife of August, a charismatic but cruel animal trainer. Caught between his love for Marlena and his need to belong in the crazy family of travelling performers, Jacob is freed only by a murderous secret that will bring the big top down.

Water for Elephantsis an enchanting page-turner, the kind of book that creates a world that engulfs you from the first page to the last. A national bestseller in Canada and aNew York Timesbestseller in the United States, this is a book destined to become a beloved fiction classic.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages

Published: April 6, 2007

Publisher: HarperCollins

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0006391559

ISBN - 13: 9780006391555

Found in: Fiction and Literature
Water for Elephants is that special book that is, in truth, a rarity…a rich, captivating, poignant, delicious-to-read story. From the very first paragraph to the final word on the last page, I was totally entranced - transported to another world and another time. Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Water for Elephants takes us behind the scenes and into the life of the circus - at a time when the circus was simply the biggest thing that could happen in a town. The circus in question is the fictional Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth - which, of course, it isn't because Ringling is that. But no matter - this is the place that young Jacob Jankowski runs to after learning that a freak accident killed both his parents just weeks before he is to graduate from Cornell with a degree in veterinary medicine. The Jacob who jumps the circus train is in every sense a virgin, thrown into a life of illusion inhabited by true roadies, midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks, each with a past, a bit of skill and well honed survival instincts. It is in this milieu that Jacob must learn to thrive - with his veterinary training his only card. We experience his journey - from lowest man on the totem with barely a place to sleep, through his first hugely anticipated sexual encounter, to his passionate love affair with the wife of the cruel but powerful Head of Circus Acts. All the while, there are the animals he cares for, the risks he takes, the lessons he learns, and the friendships he forms. You simply won't want this book to end. And weeks after you read it, you will want to go back and start over.

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Author Sara Gruen has researched the depression era circus life down to the smallest of details and I feel that this captivating and vivid story will appeal to almost anyone. Filled with action, adventure and a sweet forbidden romance there is also a fascinating sideshow of secondary characters including a clever Polish Elephant, a grouchy little person as Jacob’s roommate and a cruel and schizophrenic animal trainer whose wife Jacob just happens to fall in love with. All of this has been wrapped together with a compelling and innovative behind the scenes look aboard a travelling circus train. Showing us more often then not the darker side of circus life after the big top closes down. This is a love story, a life story, an animal lover’s story but above all it’s a circus story and who of us hasn't dreamed about running away and joining the circus at some point in our lives?
Date published: 2013-08-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well told tale Usually I don't go in for books that depict animal cruelty, but I thought I would give this a go as everyone I know was talking about it. And I really enjoyed it! A quick read that has incorporated many true facts about circus life, it brings to mind other books like The Green Mile, as it goes back and forth through time. And it tells the story of fate - a young man hops a ride on the wrong train, meets the love of his life, and the elephant that will change everything.
Date published: 2013-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow - incredible This book is engrossing and so original! It just doesn't get any better than this.
Date published: 2012-12-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Didn't Get It! I heard a lot about this novel and the combination of circus life and forbidden love seemed like a slam dunk - until I started reading. I found it slow and cumbersome. The ending was particularly frustrating. In this case maybe the movie is better than the book!
Date published: 2012-11-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Quick read There's nothing special about this book so I really don't understand all the hype. It's a quick and easy read. The storyline was good but the plot was somewhat flawed. I loved the characters but the romance and suspense aspect of the book was slow and predictable.
Date published: 2012-04-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed I really didn't find interest in the storyline, nor did I find it in the style of writing. I was disappointed with this novel and found it hard to get through. At time's I found it hard to follow because my mind would often lead elsewhere. I really wanted to like this book. The last 1/4 of the book was a bit better, but not enough to want to recommend it to anyone.
Date published: 2012-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant and Satisfying I loved this novel. It is now one of my favourites. The characters are all heartbreakingly lost and static, until Jacob joins the circus. This is a wonderful study of the struggles and desperation present during the depression, and one young man's development into a man he can be proud of. It's got love and friendship and humour... and circus animals :-) I found the Jacob we meet at the present time, between jumps back through his memories to be a realistic portrayal of what it would be like to be him, 93, body failing, with fears of losing the clarity of mind he'd been holding on to. And it has a very... satisfying... conclusion.
Date published: 2012-01-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Didn't live up to the hype I was excited to read this book because it had been on the best sellers lists for so long, but I was very disappointed. The story is very harsh and has a lot of abusive incidents which are hard to read. The story disturbed me and I did not enjoy it at all.
Date published: 2012-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really Really Good!! watched the movie and enjoyed it so I decided to read the book. Amazing. So well written. The way the author wrote Jacob's flash backs to tell the story was well written. Thoroughly enjoyed the book!!!
Date published: 2011-12-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for everyone This book had a little bit of everything—drama, suspense, romance (both adventurous and the loving kind), profanity, and some soft pornography. I must say that after seeing the movie version, I was not prepared for Ms. Gruen’s book version. I’m not sure who the author had in mind as her target reader. It was certainly not the young reader or the older senior It is too bad that she chose to use so much profanity and soft pornography. The young reader could have gleamed an insight into what the real circus was like during the depression years. The older generation could have relived his or her days at the circus. Unfortunately the author has included material that really serves no purpose, such as profanity for profanity sake, not adding anything to the story or identifying the characters as to who they are. When I read the other reviews, I was taken in by the glowing reports. Unfortunately I did not see it that way, but maybe this is what sells books these days. Alan
Date published: 2011-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Entertaining From start to finish, the book was an easy read with rich, colourful characters and a steady flow to the plot. Great job Sara!
Date published: 2011-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Read This book was amazing; I was away at summer camp when a few friends were reading it and suggested I read along. They were half way through and I decided that I would just buy a copy on my day off and read form the beginning. Once I started the book I couldn’t put it down I was using every second of free time I could to read the book. Now that I am done I can't find a book that comes close to be half as great as this one. I have searched everywhere to the point that I just open up water for elephants and read it all over again. I must have read it 3 times already... Sara Gruen please make another book like this...It was the best book of all my summer reads
Date published: 2011-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enchanting! This book was all i thought it would be, and it felt so great to again have a book that you just can't put down. The whole setting of the 1920/30 era on a circus, was magical and enchanting. It was a great book and I recommend it to all. I loved how it switched back between Jacob's past and his present as an elderly man. The whole story had a wonderful storyline and plot and was very enjoyable. I loved it.
Date published: 2011-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous!! Amazing! I loved it. I really didn't think I was going to enjoy this book so much, I mean it is about a circus! I read it in four evenings and had to make myself be reasonable and go to bed at a decent time as I had to get up for work the next day.
Date published: 2011-07-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining but not everything I got through this book pretty quickly. I absolutely fell in love with the unique setting this book provides. The rise and fall of the circus makes it seem as though it's a character on its own, and the grundgy reality behind the glamour made it hard to put down! That being said, I personally didnt find this book to be as good as everyone hyped it to be. I was ready for characters or things to have a significance later on, but the book ended without any further mention. I found some plot lines getting predictable and didnt enjoy the way it ended. Also, I found it a bit raunchy without any tie to the story line which I felt sort of cheapened it in a way. Overall an entertaining read and a look into a captivating world behind the curtain.
Date published: 2011-06-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enchanting... I was kinda making fun of this book at first, amongst my girlfriends. Then I sat down to read it... and finished it in four evenings. I enjoyed it fully. Though there were some charachter development that lacked, I liked imagining the blanks at any rate. A captivating and enchanting read.
Date published: 2011-06-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent story-telling Gruen does a remarkable job of recreating circus life in depression-era America. The story's plot isn't complicated, and you are easily engaged with her characters. In particular she does a very good job of creating a realistic elderly man in the 90-yr old Jacob, who is reflecting this story through memory flashbacks. He's beautifully crafted and I fell in love with him immediately. Gruen's research is impeccable and I loved how she created a vivid world that I fell into with all my senses. Also, I loved the ending. Its not realistic, but who cares? This is a book about the circus! Anything can happen!
Date published: 2011-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging Read This book takes you on a journey, engaging from start to finish. You feel a part of the family, easiest way for you to run away and join the circus!
Date published: 2011-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It I really enjoyed this novel. I found it enthralling and can't wait to see the movie. It's a love story (which isn't normally my thing) but had enough action and twists to keep me entertained.
Date published: 2011-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Water for Elephants will Quench Your Thirst I have to admit that I was prompted to pick up this book only after the release of the movie, but I am glad that I did. Jacob, an elderly man, residing at a retirement home, recounts his younger days as a veterinarian for a travelling circus. His life, as it turns out, is as much as a circus as the one that works for, but it makes for an interesting and endearing read, as tragedy strikes, drama unfolds, and love is found. This is the first novel by Sara Gruen that I have had the pleasure of reading and I appreciate a great many things about her writing style. First, I adore how seamlessly she moves from the narrative of Jacob's memories to his present life at the home. It is always a smooth transition and does not force you to pull away from the story before adjusting to the change. I am also happy that I took it upon myself to read the author's note at the end of the book, as I was surprised to learn that many of the events that take place in the story are based on tales that Gruen collected from historical texts and annecdotes of circus life. This, to me, demonstrates the author's dedication to her craft and explains why everything in the book seems plausible, in spite of it being a work of fiction. This is a novel that every reader can enjoy. There are elements that will appease even the fussiest of folk. Nothing about this read will leave you thirsty for more. I can certainly understand all of the praise that Gruen has received for this book and am now looking forward to taking in its film counterpart.
Date published: 2011-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Read! I loved this book! It was an interesting look into depression era USA; with the added benefit of a sweet elephant.
Date published: 2011-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Mesmerizing!! Welcome to the Circus Train Life!! Amazing!! I brought this as soon as I saw the trailer for the movie and from the very first page, the very first word I was captured by this book and held captive until the very last word. Jacob Jancowski is studying for his final exams in veterinary medicine when the death of his parents leaves him in dire straits, both mentally and financially. In his confusion and despair he finds himself wandering, and before he comes to his senses he's jumped onto a moving train and entered a new life. A life in a travelling circus. It's a life full of highs and lows, a life where you do or you sink or in many cases die. It is a fast learning curve for Jacob, not the Ivy League University or privileged life he came from. Forget the sequins and glamour, the laughter and majesty, that's all for the paying customers. This is the story on the other side of the high top. The side of the circus the crowd does not see. It’s the story of the harsh reality of circus life on the railroad during the time of the depression in 1931. A story of the daily struggle of animals, performers and crew to survive in a wickedly competitive world of mobile show business, where those who can't cut it are cut down in some frighteningly brutal ways. There are funny times and good times, but right behind them are dark & brutal times. Once aboard the Benzini brothers travelling circus train Jacob finds his place among a family of strange, loveable and some not so nice people as the circus vet. And so unravels this wonderful story. Filled with laughs, tears and love. Alongside the main story runs the story of the current day Jacob, who is now an old man in a nursing home, waiting out the end of his days, when the circus comes to town. I loved the way the two stories were woven together at the end of the book. This book if full of a lot of insight into the life of a circus performer during that time, where it was not always glamorous being a circus performer. This book is filled with wonderful and yet not always lovable characters and just an amazing story line. I am not going to give anything way…you will just have to read it for yourself. One of the best books I have read. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!! Orphaned and penniless at the height of the Depression Jacob Jankowski escapes everything he knows by jumping on a passing train -- and inadvertently runs away with the circus. So begins Water for Elephants Sara Gruens darkly beautiful tale about the characters who inhabit the less-than-greatest show on earth. Jacob finds a place tending the circus animals including a seemingly untrainable elephant named Rosie. He also comes to know Marlena the star of the equestrian act -- and wife of August a charismatic but cruel animal trainer. Caught between his love for Marlena and his need to belong in the crazy family of travelling performers Jacob is freed only by a murderous secret that will bring the big top down.
Date published: 2011-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it..... this was so good, i couldnt put it down. i cant wait until the movie comes out.
Date published: 2011-04-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from wonderful book! I wanted to read this book before even entertaining the thought of seeing the movie and I'm glad i did ( yet to see the film ). it was moving and well written...hard to put down. i found the characters so rich you can almost imagine knowing them! highly reccomended!!!
Date published: 2011-04-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dark & heavy, but the ending is well-worth getting to! This is a unique and interesting story about the realities of circus life. I wouldn't say this is an "up" kind of story, although it has its happy moments. Overall, I think reading this book would likely cure anyone thinking they'd like to run away and join the circus. When Jacob Jankowski's life takes a tragic turn, he jumps blindly on a train which happens to be a circus train, and his training as a veteranarian convinces the circus to let him stay. The adventures that come into his life as a result of that one fateful choice comprise the story through the rest of the book. The story is heavy and quite dark for much of the book, as the life of a circus person is definitely NOT for the weak or faint-hearted. There are certainly moments of joy and the excitement of the "front" of the circus where the audience or "rubes" as they're called by the circus folk definitely comes across through the author's descriptions of the show. But the people who run such shows have to make hard choices, and sometimes are cruel and cold. There are some animal cruelty scenes in the book that I found very difficult to get through, but [minor spoiler] the animals in question not only survive but get back some measure of revenge which I was happy about. It is an interesting approach that the story is told through the eyes of the 93 [or maybe 90] year old Jacob's eyes, and we flip back and forth from experiencing young Jacob's adventures as they are happening in the moment, to coming back to the elderly Jacob, remembering his life from his current life in a nursing home, where he is a just another crotchety old man that nobody really knows, or cares, all that much about. Overall, if you enjoy complex, multi-faceted storylines, about a unique world you've probably never been exposed to [outside of perhaps attending a circus as a child] and flawed, damaged and complex characters with conflicted motivations and hard choices to make, you may enjoy this story. For me, the very end made everything that came before totally worthwhile and concluded the story in the absolute perfect way which is why the book got 4 stars. If the ending had been anything other than what it was, I would have been unhappy and disappointed, but as it is, I'm glad I read this.
Date published: 2011-04-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from for anyone who loves the Circus This book draws you in to the magical world of the circus and before you know it the big top and the exotic animals are alive before you. At times you can almost smell the sawdust and smell the candied apples. It is impossible to put down as you cheer for the characters that are bigger than life. If you ever wanted to run away and join the circus then this book is a great way to begin your adventure.
Date published: 2011-04-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Book! One of our book club members chose this book late last year and I must admit I wasn't expecting to like it much. It was however, one of the best books I've read in a long time. The story was unique and very well written. Once I started it I didn't want to put it down. I passed this book on to my daughter a few weeks ago and she loved it too.The ending was perfect!
Date published: 2011-03-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Can't wait for the movie A different story line, a good read. Some parts of the book could have been omitted without ruining the story, but all in all worth reading. Should make for a great movie.
Date published: 2011-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful read I had a smile on my face when I finished reading this book. People, read the Author's Note, please! It will help you understand elephants! These are not stupid animals at all.
Date published: 2011-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A really good story! I probbaly wouldnt have picked this book up myself, but I was looking for a new book and my aunt handed me this one and just raved about it, and I am so glad she reccomened it! I read through this book so fast beacuse I just couldnt wait to find out what would happen! I'm looking forward to reading other books by the author.
Date published: 2011-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Water for Elephants was refreashingly different. A great read that sucked you in right from the beginning. It was heartbreaking, but wonderful. I definately recommend it!
Date published: 2011-03-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Raunchy What the circus was like in the depression. ride the rails. Good depiction of old man. Would make a good movie.
Date published: 2011-03-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Hard to read I bought this book because my Book Club had read it in the past and I generally enjoy all the books that they choose. However, I am particularly sensitive to stories that involve animals, especially animals in situations where they are maltreated. I didn't get even a quarter of the book read. I'm sure other people would find the book more easy to read.
Date published: 2011-03-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprisingly good read! I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I usually find it difficult to relate to a male main character, but the story was always engaging. I couldn't put the book down and stayed awake all night until I finished it.
Date published: 2011-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing. I just finished reading Water for Elephants, it only took me about two days - one if I didn't have to do anything I am sure. It was AMAZING! - The cover even said I wouldn't want to put it down and it was right. The style of writing was so fresh and smooth, and the topic of life in the 1930's and the circus was so different. Sara's style of mixing the old man's life with his past was great, and funny. If you ever get time to read another book - It should be this one. I will read this one again and again and tell all my friends to read it too.
Date published: 2011-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't Put It Down! This was one of the most refreshing books I have read in a very, very long time! There was so much care and investment into the charachters, the setting and the story it made me absolutly fall in love within the very first chapter. It is very rare you find a book that you enjoy so much that upon finishing it you turn it over and begin reading it all over again. The magic surrounding the era of the depression, the dirty thirties and especially the train circuses is so beautifuly portrayed in this book. The fact that Sara Gruen used real life history and stories as a foundation to this creation is marvelous. The book plays like a wonderful movie as you read it, and I HIGHLY reccomend this book to anyone. I myself will lend this to all my friends, once (of course) I re-read it again myself.
Date published: 2011-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read, interesting and unique I really enjoyed this book and it seems the author put a lot of research into senior care as well as the old circuses. I found myself completely enthralled with the big top and sympathetic of most of the characters. The book flows very well and is both a light but deep read at the same time. It wont take long because you wont be able to put it down. While a love story becomes central to the book there are so many other interesting aspects. I only with there was a little more depth into some of the characters because I felt like I was just getting to know them when the book ended. I hope the movie is good
Date published: 2011-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It was an alright book. I thought it would have been better. I kept reading because I pictured the main character as Robert (since that's his role in the movie). It had a good storyline and you become close with the characters. The ending was sweet. Poor old Jacob. Well see how the movie goes in 2011!
Date published: 2010-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book! Very well written novel. Describes the era and the setting so well that you feel like you're part of the chaos. It exposes show business and the glamour and its counterpart - the harsh realities of performing. Very well written, easy to read and a very original storyline and setting.
Date published: 2010-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT What a great read set in the depression era based around a vet who runs away from life only to end up joining the circus. I would, in fact, have recommended this book to everyone I know. In fact I am on my 3rd copy as I have given away others to folks who thought they may not be able to return it but I just want themm to read it. Filled with characters that you will never forget and a story line that fills your heart and memory (not to mention an elephant that will have you laughing) with love. This should be the next book you read, in fact it should be a staple on everyones bookshelves (online and at home). Happy reading :)
Date published: 2010-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I can't believe it took me so long to buy this book! I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but Water For Elephants was actually my second pick when shopping that day. I can't say how many times I have picked it up, read the back cover and placed it back on the shelf. But this time I had nothing to lose, and after reading it I realize that this is the book I would make a sacrifice for. Sara Gruen takes her readers into the extraordinary life of Jacob Jankowski, a vet school drop out who's jumped on a train in the middle of the night in the heat of the post war depression. He is a lovable character with an even better story to tell! Narrated by Jacob at ninety three years of age, this book teaches both an appreciation for things that once were and the people who still represent them in our lives. I found his story filled with just as much glitter and glamour as mess and harsh realities. This is a book I will remember forever, it sparks interest, thought, speculation, and most of all, it emphasizes the importance of the lived experience. Because when you're ninety three years old and waiting for your family to come take you to the circus, what else have you got? Buy it, buy it now and never look back. This isn't a book to borrow.
Date published: 2010-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Water for Elephants Sara Gruen http://insubstanial.blogspot.com/2010/08/water-for-elephants-by-sara-gruen.html Blog for Book Reviews
Date published: 2010-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful! i love how the outline of this novel is narrated by a crotchety old man that fears he's begun losing his mind when the circus starts setting up across the street from his retirement home. his memeories are quite vivid and take us all on his whirlwind adventure of a failing circus in the 1930's. a life filled with abused animals, the need for social acceptance, forbidden love and trying to do the right thing by everyone. this book was an easy read that had so much detail and clear research behind it that it worked out to be the most wonderful, feel good book that i have ever read. i would recomend it to anyone young or old.
Date published: 2010-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic and Illuminating Excellent book set in the 1930's, tragedy strikes a young man on the eve of graduating from Cornell University as a Veterinarian; bereft of family and fortune he walks out on his final exams to catch a ride on a circus train. You will follow his life and his loves as he rediscovers himself and what life is all about. Well written, engaging subject, I developed a greater appreciation for what the average man had to endure during the great depression. And specifically the struggles of Jacob (the main character) to come to terms with what he has lost in most unusual surroundings, and how he still managed to live his dream by caring for the circus animals. Easy read and currently being made into a major motion picture.
Date published: 2010-07-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Read in that Uncomplicated, Entertaining Sort of Way The year is 1931 and Jacob Jankowski is one week from writing his final exams in order to become a veternarian, when both his parents are killed in automobile accident. In a moment of confusion and desperation, he jumps on board a train to escape his life ... only to find himself surrounded by the greatest show on earth. That's right, he has inadvertantly jumped aboard the travelling circus, and he finds more than he ever bargained for. The story moves between a ninety-three-year-old Jacob, who is now living in a nursing home, feeling alone and abandoned by his family; and a twenty-three-year-old Jacob, who is discovering who he is. Whenever I think of a nursing home, and the abandoned old men and ladies that live there, I always think of Gracie ... and I didn't even know her. But it does lead me to another thought. It's a thought that one does not come to understand until they are a "true" grown up ... You can learn things from the elderly. Yes, things about your family, things about history. And you can hear about these things first hand. Unless it is too late. Would you believe that your Grama might have a secret? Something that she had never told anyone? Or that your Grandpa was involved in something truly extraordinary or life-changing? But these are the things we realize when it is too late sometimes. Probably because we are now getting old. Water for Elephants brings home the idea that inside that wrinkly skin, if you move past the difficulty that hearing loss presents, there is someone with a really cool story to tell you. And you should listen. It teaches us that you are never too old to follow your dream - don't forget that part. I read this book as part of a self-imposed challenge to read 100 books in one year. If you want to read more about my thoughts on this story, the author or you want to learn more about Gracie, check out my blog ... http://takenoutofcontext-jill.blogspot.com/2010/07/few-days-with-travelling-circus.html
Date published: 2010-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Wonderful I've had this book sitting on my shelf for a few months now and finally decided to pick it up and read it; from then on I couldn't put it down. I read it in a total of three sittings; when I wasn't reading it I was daydreaming about it. This book is clearly very thouroughly researched, as well as excellently written. The story is so vivid in your head as you read it, and the characters are hard not to love (or hate.) It's a great mixture of fantasy and reality, excitment and comfortability. In essence the theme is love, but not only the romantic kind. Someone said it had a "fluffy" ending and it seemed rushed . . . Although I am a fan of the realistic endings that people don't always like, I thought the ending was just perfect. Tied for my number one favorite book, with The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, this is a must read for everyone. Water for Elephants is coming out on the big screen next year. I am both excited and worried. I know how hollywood can butcher a wonderful book, but I believe with the right guidance this can be a great movie. I think Robert Pattinson will make a great Jacob, but I'm not sure I'm sold on Reese Witherspoon as Marlena. I think someone like Amy Adams may have been more suited to the part. Read this book, and you won't be disappointed :)
Date published: 2010-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Story...could not put down A story with a twist...could not put it down. Is currently being filmed as a movie with Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon & Christoph Waltz starring. Can't wait to see it on screen...read script & they have kept true to the book...a must read.
Date published: 2010-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED IT This book was recommended to me by a friend and I have since been recommending it to everyone in sight! Awesome!
Date published: 2010-06-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A solid story Water For Elephants is a great book and I'm very happy I have read it, the reason why I wanted to read it is because a movie adaptation is coming out next year some time I think and I wanted to do my research on the book because I will be seeing the movie, it also helps that Robert Pattinson is in the movie as well. But back to the book it was great, the writing was wonderful as well and I loved all of the characters and even the animals, I really liked Rosie she was a really smart elephant and had a personality of her own. The only character I didn't like was August and I'm sure that alot of people didn't like him. Overalll the book was great and I'm soooo happy I got the chance to read it, I would really recommend this to people if they want a good story to read.
Date published: 2010-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Book! This book was recommended to me by an Indigo staff member. I am so glad I ended up buying it! It's a wonderful story which offers a different perspective of the circus and it's performers. Currently, one of my co-workers is reading it and I can't wait to hear what she thinks about it!
Date published: 2010-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So the saying is true... I chose to read this book for an English assignment, and to be perfectly honest I had thought that the book would be a simple read filled with "fluff", judging on the cover alone. Well, never have I ever been so wrong, this book has quickly reached the top as one of my all-time favourites! The plot is full of twists and turns and the character development is amazing. So much happens, and yet, it is not cluttered, in the least bit. The author is extremely talented, and I absolutely recommend this to anyone who needs to do an English project (lots of symbolism), those who doesn't generally enjoy reading (my friend absolutely loved it, and she doesn't read, at all!) and also to anyone who enjoys a fantastic read!
Date published: 2010-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from INTRIGUING What a great read ,captivating from beginning to end . Gives a great insight on ageing and life in the circus
Date published: 2010-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful Simple, beautiful, romantic and sad. This is a great novel worth reading
Date published: 2010-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWESOME! Water for elephants is truly a fabulous book! I don't want to give anything away - but I haven't found a single person that didn't LOVE this book! The characters are memorable, and I stayed up into the night reading!
Date published: 2009-12-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I want to join the Circus!!! I truly enjoyed this book. It was well-written, had well-developed characters and showed the hardships of working in a circus in the early years. I would recommend this book to bookclubs.
Date published: 2009-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intriguing A well written, entertaining story, that keeps you wanting more. An unusual story, with just as unusual ending...I can see it being made into a movie.
Date published: 2009-09-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An easy and enjoyable read This novel was an easy read. Interesting and entertaining. That is as deep as it goes.
Date published: 2009-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic When Jacob learns that his parents were killed in an automobile accident, he can no longer focus on finishing his final exams at Cornell to become a vet. Instead, Jacob jumps on a train wanting to escape and winds up on a travelling circus train and experiences the travelling circus live in the 1930s. Jacob soon becomes the vet for the show and learns all about how the circus operates, friendship, and love. The story is seamlessly told between past and present, as Jacob remembers his life in the circus when the circus starts across the street from his retirement home. He talks about Marlena, his love, and his "bull" (elephant) Rosie, which is a different tale of love and is just as endearing. As soon as I started this book I couldn't put it down. The characters and animals grabbed me and the tale of living on a train was enchanting. This is one of the better books I've read this year and I've already recommended it to people!
Date published: 2009-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a wonderful compelling read Just as Jacob Jankowski is to sit his final veterinary exams at Cornell, he learns that his parents have been killed and he is penniless. He jumps aboard a passing train and finds himself in the circus world. The time period is the 1930s and it is a time of struggle. The circus rolls into town, sets up and goes on to the next town. It is a place for misfits, drifters, freaks and people who don't fit in. Jacob soon becomes the circus vet and the circus soon becomes the proud owner of Rosie, an elephant. Rosie unfortunately is untrainable until Jacob happens upon the method to get her to perform. There are many wonderful characters in this book. Marlena, the beautiful horse back rider is married to August, the animal trainer. August has severe anger issues and everyone is afraid of him. There is Walter, the midget whom Jacob gets to bunk with. This is a great book about love, love for another human and a love of animals. It is wonderfully written and a very compelling read.
Date published: 2009-09-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting I look at circuses and zoos a little differently now... I liked this book ~ an easy read... saddens me to think how these lovely creatures have been treated at the hand of man... for profit. Found myself really engaged with the characters of this novel.
Date published: 2009-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read. Loved the outline narrated from a old man's memories and encorporates his current living environment and physical state. Gives a glance at live entertainment (circus life) in the early 1900's. Has a feel good ending. Well researched, accurate.
Date published: 2009-08-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay This book was just "okay" for me. I found the ending to be really disappointing....it turned all fluffy and stereotypical. It seemed as though the author just wanted to finish the book without any real thought.
Date published: 2009-07-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, Not Great This book was recommended to me by quite a few co-workers. I felt that the first three quarters of the book were good and the last quarter was very good and kept me wanting to read to the end.
Date published: 2009-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly Beautiful From the first page, I was hooked! Everything in this book is written so perfectly, you have to go out of your way to not fall in love with it. I really loved the flashbacks of Jack at 90 remembering his train circus life at 23. *RECOMMENDED TO THOSE WHO LIKE TO READ*
Date published: 2009-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic read! Absorbing and exciting - one of the best novels I have read in a long time. Enjoyable for young & old alike. Would recommend this to everyone! Slow to start but you won't be able to put it down as the story unfolds.
Date published: 2009-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous! Fast-paced, interesting story, I felt like I was really there. One of the best books I have read in a while! The only complaint is that it could have been longer and more developed.
Date published: 2009-06-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Failed to perform This was a book on my "to read" list for a while. Although I loved the human-animal discourse, I think that the storyline and characters were very two-dimensional and overall the book fell flat. What a shame; it had such great possibilities.
Date published: 2009-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I sooooo LOVED this book! It has been a long time since I have read a book this good - I just couldn't put it down! 'Water for Elephants' is a wonderful and heartfelt story and I will be recommending it to all of my friends and family.
Date published: 2009-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Most Favorite Of Summer 2008 This book was amazing; I was away at summer camp when a few friends were reading if and suggested I read along. They were half way through and I decided that I would just buy my own and read it alone. Once I started the book I couldn’t put it down I was using every second of free time I could to read the book. Now that I am done I can't find a book that is close to this one to read. I have searched everywhere to the point that I just open up water for elephants and read it all over again. I must have read it 3 times already... Sara Gruen please make another book like this...It was the best book of all my summer reads
Date published: 2009-04-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Spell-binding story of the mystique of the circus! I rally enjoyed this book, the character, Jacob....hilarious disgruntled old circus hand recalling his earlier years as a circus vet. Loved Jacob as the 93 yr old!!!!! You can really visualize the scenery, the labors, toils and the lives of circus people. I cried for the gentle elephant, loved the dwarf he bunked with, egged him on to form a relationship with the horse lady he secretly loved. The ending was so warmingly concluded....you felt Jacob was a true real person and ended up wanting to know more about Jacob.
Date published: 2009-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You Do Not Need to be an Elephant to Remember this Touching Story. This was an absolutely amazing story. I loved how the author began important chapters with a photograph of actual circus scenes from the archives of famous circuses from the early twentieth century. The narrator of the story is in an old-age home where he is reminiscing about his days in the circus as the veterinarian. Having suffered terrible tragedy at home he runs away, hopping on a train only to find himself on a train carrying circus folk. The life is harsh and the trials are many, but the narrator looks back on this time as exciting and formative. The hardships of the circus are comparable to the hardships he is facing as a resident of the home. He is old (ninety or ninety-three, he cannot remember) however, he does not feel old. He is stuck with others who are suffering from the mental deterioration that comes with old age and is terrified this is happening to him. Each time he drifts off, he remembers this exciting and better time with the circus and, of course, his lady love, who he fought for tooth-and-nail. This novel was riveting and emotional. I could not read it fast enough and after reading the ending I felt as if this was the most natural way to end the story. Not without a sense of humour, Sara Gruen tells of wickedness, abuse and poverty in a venture meant to bring happiness to the masses; the circus.
Date published: 2009-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Animals and people, story of true love and true misery I was looking for a good book and many times I was disappointed with people’s recommendations. The title caught my eye and I decided to pick that book without knowing anything about the author or book’s content. This was a draw of a luck. I spent hours at the time reading the story of Jacob Jankowski, young man of Polish heritage who made his accidental career as a circus vet. Reading the book you will experience love between people, and love for animals. This love is budding amongst human misery, abuse and poverty of America in depression. As much as story is tragic it is also uplifting, giving another example of the rule that you don’t know true happiness without true life disaster. This was one of the most attention grabbing books I have read in a long time.
Date published: 2009-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic This book exceeded my expectations. Best read in a long time.
Date published: 2009-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great story I loved this book. Easy read with a slight surreal overtone - afterall it is set in the circus. Love the unwritten rules of existance and the parallels to life in the real world. Straight forward old fashioned story with a beginning, middle and end. Good for your heart. Hard to put the book down and I barely did until I finished.
Date published: 2008-12-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved this story I kept hearing how amazing this book was, but for some reason the title wasn't grabbing me. I finally succombed and purchased this book for my honeymoon. I was so engrossed in this story that I finished the book during the first week of our vacation. It is an amazing story and one that I highly recommend.
Date published: 2008-12-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Enchanting Fairy Tale Have you ever dreamed running away and joining the circus? No doubt with this thrilling and romantic story you will be transported into the extraordinary and exotic world of a travelling circus during the hard times of the Great Depression. Living in a nursing home and reminiscing of the old days, Jacob Jankowshi now a ninety year old, narrates his life under the Big Top while he worked for the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. The story hovers between his present day life and the exciting times spent with the travelling circus. Finding his world turn up side down and penniless with the death of his parents, Jacob runs off and joins the circus. There he wakes up to a hard world of freaks and clowns, animals treated in a cruel manner and performing poorly all under a boss with questionable abilities and a definite mean streak. His only consolation was finding love and trust in a person he raised his family with. Beautifully written with historical details, the author gives us many unexpected events all along keeping us riveted to the story. The characters are extraordinary, well sketched and presented. It is hard not to fall under the spell of this novel; it is an enchanting fairy tale. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2008-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Page Turner! How this author let me identify with a 90 (or 93) year old male who worked for a circus in the depression is remarkable to me, but she does just that. I loved this book. The characters(including the animals) are all so vivid & interesting, that you get drawn into their daily struggles. I am going to find Riding Lessons (an earlier book by Gruen).
Date published: 2008-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting This book for me was a wonderful tale with life lessons as an appendage.The book is an easy read,drawing you in and keeping you there. I really enjoyed the story.
Date published: 2008-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing So tempting so tempting so tempting, it took me all these years to finally have the chance to pick up this book, but then I was hooked. Beautiful writing, amazing character, intriguing plot - this could easily be my favourite book of the year. I enjoy it tremendously. I just need to close my eyes now and I could fall back to the wonderful world created in Water for Elephants.
Date published: 2008-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Novel Great story and very fluid. If you're an animal lover there are descriptions that tear at your heart, but this only adds to the power of the novel. Recommended.
Date published: 2008-10-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read! I loved this book and lent it to numerous friends who not only loved it but bought copies for family so they could enjoy it too. A look at the history of the "Great Depression" from the unique and personal angle of circus folk. A compelling story of relationships under pressure and of circumstances bringing people to herosim or cowardice. A tale of the saving grace of animals. And a chance to run away to the circus ..... haven't we all wanted to do that sometime?
Date published: 2008-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific - Left Me Wanting More I had read a bunch of fantastic reviews of this book so, despite the fact that I didn't think I'd be interested in the topic, I took a chance on it. At first, I thought it was just OK, but I wondered why people said they couldn't put it down. However, the story soon drew me in. It is full of emotion. It's one of those books that I am going to "miss" now that I'm finished.
Date published: 2008-09-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another Winner Picked by Heather I had this book in my pile for a long time before I picked it up and I don't know why. It was definitely a winner, and I am so glad that I finally read it. It is the story of a man whose future changes in the blink of an eye. He is just about done of vet school and imagines a good living working with his father. Then his parents both die suddenly and he finds out all the money is gone - between paying for school for him and the poor economy of the 30s. He sort of looses it and jumps onto a train. It turns out the train is a circus train and the fact that he is basically a vet (he didn't write his final exams) saves his bacon. It is a very interesting look at both the '30s and life in the circus - which is pretty harsh. Animals, crazy characters, love - this book has it all!
Date published: 2008-09-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting and fun I really enjoyed reading this novel and found it hard to put down. I don't know how accurate her portrayal of life in the circus is, but in this story it's a fascinating mix of humans and beasts, all with their own morals, and the clashes that ensue. The ending is a bit "Disney", but at least when I put the book down for the last time it was with a smile on my face.
Date published: 2008-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A touching, wonderful book A really moving and entertaining story about an old man trapped in a nursing home, and his memories of experiences working as a circus vet during the Great Depression. I had heard it was a good book, but that in no way prepared me for how much it sucked me in and made me empathize, cry with, delight with, and rage with the main characters. My mom works with the elderly and also really loved the sequences with him as an old man--she said they were very realistic and well-written. Definitely in my list of top reads.
Date published: 2008-08-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Didn't Like I didn't like this book. I thought it was shallow and I didn't feel like the characters were fleshed out at all. While I think the general story would have been good, I think the book "tells" without "showing" way too much. The ending was completely rushed and lacked a satisfying resolution.
Date published: 2008-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb Read! This was a book that I picked up with no real knowledge of what I was in for and ended up absolutely loving it. It's a wonderfully written, with great characters, and an amazing story concept. I would recommend it anyone searching for a great read.
Date published: 2008-08-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I was pleasantly surprised! Even though the whole circus topic didn't interest me, I decided to give the book a try since it was getting such amazing reviews. It's not the kind of book that I would normally read, but I was pleasantly surprised! It had a little bit of everything - drama, tragedy, humour, suspense, romance, etc. It was just a really well told story. Don't let the circus theme scare you off -- give it a fair try and you just might be surprised too!
Date published: 2008-08-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not impressed I bought this book because of the great reviews but wasn't impressed. It was easy to read the but the carnival atmosphere didn't really interest me. It was kind of a dull story line.
Date published: 2008-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Once in a Lifetime Book A book this good doesn't come along very often. It is heartbreaking, hilarious and amazing all at the same time.
Date published: 2008-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A spectacular novel about the circus world! Bringing in a wonderful sense of time through a continuous switch between the 23 and 93 year old protagonist, this novel is simply irresistable. Although the first page begins with a relatively slow pace, it quickly picks up its speed.The flow is absolutely perfect. With its rich and vivid imagery, this novel is everything a reader can wish for.
Date published: 2008-06-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Will make a great movie Loved reading the story and couldn't help thinking that if Hume Cronyn was alive he would have made a wonderful principal character. It is very colorful leaving my imagination to run wild.
Date published: 2008-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Story about a unique group I could not put this book down, the story is captivating. I would strongly recommend it to you. What a great gift for a reader.
Date published: 2008-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding! I cherished every moment that I spent reading this book. Thank you Sara Gruen for one of the most delightful reading experiences in years. I absolutely loved this book. Very well researched. Very difficult to put down. A beautiful ending.
Date published: 2008-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great story, well told By the end of this novel by expat Canadian author Sara Gruen, Jacob Jankowski winds up jobless in the early days of the Great Depression with a pregnant wife, a dozen circus horses, a baby chimp, a beligerant dog and an elephant named Rosie. The wonderful story is told in the first person by Jacob and seamlessly flows between his present confinement at the age of 90 (or 93) in an assisted living facility, and his past when as a young man he hops a circus train out of tragic circumstances and is thrown into the world of a second rate Depression era travelling circus. Before long, he is brought into the inner circle of the Big Top's key operators. Gruen's research into the history and lore of train circuses adds rich color to the story of Jacob and his love for Marlena, an equestrian star married to August, the circus' violent animal trainer. Gruen's story is so rich and so vivid - it truly engages all 5 senses.
Date published: 2008-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth reading!! I'll admit, I was skeptical about reading this book, the title didn't really captivate me. But when I finally decided to buy it and start reading it, I couldn't put it down! One of the best books I've read in a long time!! Just goes to show that the old saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover." is so very true!!
Date published: 2008-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This was a great book! I had written this down as a book I wanted to read, not really knowing much about it at all. I had heard the buzz, and was curious. Honestly, I'd assumed it was set in India or possibly Africa. I was pleasantly surprised by the subject, and I could hardly set it down until I was finished. It was a fascinating glimpse into circus life of the time.
Date published: 2008-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A very sweet read! This novel was such an enjoyable read. I savoured it and became lost in the intrigue of the plot and grew to feel compassion and repulsion towards the characters within it. Gruen depicts the life of a travelling circus with vivid prose and with a mastery of the subject. This novel will remain on my bookshelf and is one that I will give as a gift for a while to come.
Date published: 2008-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I Love Elephants Yes, I love elephants so when I heard of this book I had to read it! This book had me hooked from the first page.....I didn't want to stop reading until I knew Rosie's tale. I'm not a fan of the circus but this book allowed me to escape into that world of excitement, love, hate, and revenge!! Go Rosie!!
Date published: 2008-01-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great Story This book was well written. I felt like I could picture the people and surroundings. Though I am not too interested in the topic of the circus, this book kept me reading with an interesting and well told story.
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Water for Elephants Loved this book from start to finish. It was easy to read, had rich characters and kept my interest. I did not want the book to end I was enjoying it that much. On top of all that I learned something about circus life during the depression. The book gave a great insight to what life might have been like as a circus performer in that time period.
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You have to read this When I looked at the title I thought - oh this is going to be boring. Man was I wrong. This was the most interesting story I have read in a long time. It moves quickly and has some interesting things happen that keeps you reading to find out what happens next. Excellent book - great for book clubs.
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An interesting read! This book is easy to read and will not take you long to finish. If you have ever wondered what circus life was like, this book gives you some disturbing insights. Although I am not one who ever enjoys watching a circus, this book still intrigued me. The author based factual information she had attained through her research into the storyline. I did not love the book but I certainly liked it.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lovely Story I just finished reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I wasn't sure what to except when I chose it for my book club at work but I did enjoy it. It was a lovely story about Jacob and his many years with the circus. It was touching in that he was telling the story from the nursing home, at the age of 92. That was the first book I read about the circus and I learned a lot. I do recommend this to others.
Date published: 2008-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting and fun I read this book on a long nine hour flight to England and I couldn't believe how short the journey seemed. I "fell into" the story quickly and was enchanted by it. It has a love story as well as adventure and murder. Learning about circus life during the hard times of the 30's Depression was interesting. It is set from the point of view of a elderly person in a nursing home as he looks back on his life. It also makes you realise there are many old people tucked away in these homes who have fascinating stories to tell us. I would recommend this book to all.
Date published: 2008-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Opening... better ending This book had me with the first 6 words, and I couldn't put it down from there. I loved every character - even the nasty ones. When I'm 90 - or 93 - I want my life to end like this book did. Definitely adding Sara Gruen to my list of favourite authors.
Date published: 2008-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A trip back in time to the circus I absolutely LOVED this book. The characters are memorable, the tone is fantatically set up, and the ending is a smash that brought tears to my eyes. Definitely looking for more of Sara Gruen's novels!
Date published: 2007-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could not put it down.... When I finished I was prepared to turn right back to the front and start again. I was left speechless. I have recommended it to everyone I know and they have not been disappointed either. This book is the answer to every book lovers prayer. Thank you Sara!
Date published: 2007-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Remarkable read. One of the best books I've read in a long time. Characters (including Rosie) are well defined and extremely memorable. Sara Gruen has also captured the truth of living in an assisted living environment and the indignities involved but not without some humour.
Date published: 2007-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down! I've read a few of Heather's Picks and this is another I've really enjoyed. It was one of those books that make you keep reading and when you're done feel very satisfied. My daughter read it also and chose Water For Elephants along with The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for her Grade 12 English ISU Comparative Study.
Date published: 2007-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Book This is an amazing book. The writing is wonderful, the characters seem so real you feel you know them and you get a real feel for the place and time. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2007-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Splendid! Thank goodness for Rosie's and Rosemary's, I so enjoyed this book. I cheered (and cried) at the end! A perfect trip to the circus, thank you.
Date published: 2007-11-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Easy summer read What a juicy story! All the mysterious, sordid and splendid details of life on the road with the greatest show on earth. An adventure and a love story that keep you reading until you can't keep your eyes open any more. Very easy to read.
Date published: 2007-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A true gem! As an avid reader, I read approximately forty books a year. I know already that Water For Elephants will definitely be right near the top of the list, if not number one. The author draws the reader so fully into the time and place, that the characters seem real enough to touch. Jacob's anger at August's cruelty becomes our anger and Jacob and Marlena's delight at Rosie's wonderful personality becomes our delight. A couple of exciting, interesting twists keep the reader's attention until the last page. The photographs included by Gruen only add to the effectiveness of the story. Just like the sparkling sequins on the circus performers' costumes, this story is a true gem! P.S. It is interesting to read this novel right after re-reading Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel.
Date published: 2007-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful I could not put this book down! I started reading it in the morning and stayed up late to finish it that night. I wish I hadn't...I didn't want the story to end and would have loved to continue reading it the next day. This is just a really great read...different from anything I have picked up before. You will love it.
Date published: 2007-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best read ever!! This is, no doubt, the best book that I have ever read. I started it one day, and could not put it down. I would have finished it in one day, but saved thirty pages for the next morning. The book caught me right from the prologue.... every story line in it kept my attention. Being an animal lover, I fell in love with many of the animal characters and unfortunately, hurt when they hurt. The love story that weaves its way throughout the book is second to none. Do not miss reading this book.
Date published: 2007-05-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Catchy Story I very much enjoyed reading this story about a elderly gentleman, past and present, who travelled with the circus as the vet. I would recommend it for light reading.
Date published: 2007-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This may possibly be "the best book I've ever read"!
Date published: 2007-04-18

– More About This Product –

Water for Elephants: A Novel

Water for Elephants: A Novel

by Sara Gruen

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages

Published: April 6, 2007

Publisher: HarperCollins

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0006391559

ISBN - 13: 9780006391555

From the Publisher

The runaway international bestseller by “the must-read author of summer” (Ottawa Citizen)

Orphaned and penniless at the height of the Depression, Jacob Jankowski escapes everything he knows by jumping on a passing train—and inadvertently runs away with the circus. So beginsWater for Elephants, Sara Gruen’s darkly beautiful tale about the characters who inhabit the less-than-greatest show on earth.

Jacob finds a place tending the circus animals, including a seemingly untrainable elephant named Rosie. He also comes to know Marlena, the star of the equestrian act—and wife of August, a charismatic but cruel animal trainer. Caught between his love for Marlena and his need to belong in the crazy family of travelling performers, Jacob is freed only by a murderous secret that will bring the big top down.

Water for Elephantsis an enchanting page-turner, the kind of book that creates a world that engulfs you from the first page to the last. A national bestseller in Canada and aNew York Timesbestseller in the United States, this is a book destined to become a beloved fiction classic.

About the Author

SARA GRUEN was born in Vancouver, lived in London, Ontario, andwent to university in Ottawa. She now lives with her husband and three childrenin a conservation community outside of Chicago. Her fiction debut,RidingLessons, was an international bestseller.Water for Elephantsis herthird novel. Visit her website atwww.saragruen.com.

Editorial Reviews

?Dazzling. . . . Unforgettable.? (Edmonton Journal)