Water For Elephants by Sara GruenWater For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Water For Elephants

bySara Gruen

Paperback | March 1, 2011

Pricing and Purchase Info

$16.50

Earn 83 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store

Out of stock online

Not available in stores

about

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 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 Elephants is 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 a New York Times bestseller in the United States, this is a book destined to become a beloved fiction classic.

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.
Loading
Title:Water For ElephantsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.75 × 6.35 × 1 inPublished:March 1, 2011Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1443406287

ISBN - 13:9781443406284

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well Paced and Interesting Overall I really liked the story line. The character's were good and the circus setting was unique and fit the story phenomenally.
Date published: 2018-06-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Endearing An endearing story of a young man orphaned while studying at the University to become a vet and join his father's practice. Devastated and instantly poor, he joins the circus. The novel recounts his circus life as remembered by him in an "old age" home. A wonderful ending, when the circus visits the town he is living in. An ending that makes you want to stand up and cheer!
Date published: 2018-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from top notch I really enjoyed this. I was happy to find the author’s note at the end and read about how she researched for her book. The story is full of details that would seem impossible to describe without having been on a circus show. Top notch. Some people seem bothered by the sexual content. Sure it’s a bit graphic but nothing to cover your eyes over. It depends on how sensitive you are I guess. Not for kids let's just say!
Date published: 2018-03-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lovely The format is very interesting. The "present" is tear-jerking, and the "past" is an interesting story. I didn't give it 5 simply because the characters (except Jacob, who's fully fledged out) were predictable and not very likeable (Marlena especially).
Date published: 2018-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully Dark Such a sad but lovable story. Beautiful in dark ways. Definitely on it's way to being considered a classic.
Date published: 2018-01-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Book I really enjoyed reading this book. While the story surrounds the circus it is not really what I expected, the story is lovely and romantic.
Date published: 2018-01-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent Story I both loved and disliked this book. The way the book is written sucks you into the story and it's hard to put down. However, I feel like the characters aren't all fully developed and the relationships seem rushed at parts.
Date published: 2018-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read! Picked up this book on a whim and it surpassed my expectations. It is such a lovely read and definitely pulls at your heart. It is still one of my all time favourites to this day.
Date published: 2017-12-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Oh yes Riveting and well written. If you like a good story mixed with historical fiction, read this.
Date published: 2017-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal This book is a page turner. I cried, laughed and fell in love with the main characters and Rosie the elephant. Captured the atmosphere of circuses in the 30's. Outstanding plot, finished this book in two days - Couldn't put it down!!
Date published: 2017-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my fav books Such an amazing story. Even the title is perfect.
Date published: 2017-10-04
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: 2017-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful I am super picky when it comes to books. I loved this story so much, I have nothing negative to say about it. I read it over and over.
Date published: 2017-08-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Red the Book Before Watching the Movie; Much Better I really liked this book. The story is told through alternating points of view; young Jacob and elderly Jacob. You may like some chapters better than others, but I found each point of view entertaining.
Date published: 2017-08-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from nice easy read easy afternoon read. good story.
Date published: 2017-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it!!! The transition between then and now was done flawlessly. A great love story!
Date published: 2017-07-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Memorable Sweet and tough, engaging and memorable historical fiction - great characters.
Date published: 2017-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing story Unique, thought-provoking, and one of the best love stories I've ever read. This book will stay with me for a long time!
Date published: 2017-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Great narrative, loved every minute
Date published: 2017-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfection! This will always be one of my absolute favourite books. I highly recommend. Sara Gruen is a great author. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from another great novel this one had a lot of sadness in it, but it was so mixed with happiness as well. I should really read it again!
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING Easily one of the best books I have ever read. I love the nursing home aspect.
Date published: 2017-05-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking I enjoyed the way the novel was written with alternating chapters with time periods. It gave insight into the reasons why and where things ended up. There was heartbreak but happiness.
Date published: 2017-05-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Kept me reading Slow at times and unbelievable but it kept me interested in the story enough to finish it.
Date published: 2017-05-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really cute story I cam say that I've really enjoyed this story. It definitely brought tears to my eyes. Highly recommend this for someone who's craving a cute romance.
Date published: 2017-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites Loved this story. Definitely recommend this one.
Date published: 2017-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lovely novel This was an enjoyable novel. It had a great combination of heartbreak and excitement while being a true love story. Would recommend
Date published: 2017-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What an epic love story Great love story. Loved hearing about this community.
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great story #plumreview This book is definitely worth all the praise it has received.
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Compelling story This book has so many "characters" all with their own story, confined in the train. This was a really good book, the film is good as well #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Coming of age This book is a great coming of age novel that i absolutely loved
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved. Such a captivating story. You won't be able to put this book down.
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful Story I've read this book three times and I fall in love with it more and more each time. It's a story that people can easily relate to with its characters and the events in their lives really get at your heart strings. Loved this book.
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Story I bought a previous edition of this book. It is a beautiful story and very well written.
Date published: 2017-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great! this was an awesome quick read for me that I thoroughly enjoyed - her explanations of the characters were wonderful
Date published: 2017-02-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unexpected I came across this book unexpectedly and didn't expect to love it as much as I did. I found the story was well written and was never boring. I couldn't put it down!
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting I found this book was slow moving and a little hard to get into at first. About half way through, it held my interest more. Was a little hard to read with the animal cruelty, but enjoyed the happy ending.
Date published: 2017-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent book!! This was a really quick enjoyable read that every animal love will enjoy
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from love! Definitely one of my favorite books ever.
Date published: 2017-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read He really did it, he ran away and joined the circus!
Date published: 2017-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable This is an enjoyable and quick read! Lots of scary behind the scenes stuff from the circus too!
Date published: 2017-01-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Water for Elephants I adored this book. It was heartfelt and wonderfully written. The book is better than the movie ;)
Date published: 2017-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from loved This is a very well written book and a wonderful love story. I would recommend it. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-01-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not my favourite! To me this was just a love story in an unusual setting. The characters were weakly developed and I just couldn't get into the mood of the novel
Date published: 2017-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down This is a very well written book and a wonderful love story. I would recommend it.
Date published: 2017-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down This is a very well written book and a wonderful love story. I would recommend it.
Date published: 2017-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful love story Couldn't put this book down for long, the romance between the runaway vet student and the circus performer was beautiful and their love for the animals so real. This book made me cry at the ending, highly recommend.
Date published: 2017-01-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cool! This book was interesting and fun to read based on the setting and the time period.
Date published: 2016-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! I purchased this book because it was one of the options for a grade 11 reading list and sounded the most appealing to me. I was not wrong at all! This novel is eye-opening, inspiring, tear-jerking, and heart-breaking all at once, while still never failing to captivate the reader. I am so happy I made this purchase and highly recommend it to any avid reader above the age of fifteen.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! My mother-in-law read it with her book group and recommended it to me! Such a great read - I can only recommend it!
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Incredible Novel You will cheer for the elephant.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book I recommended it to my Mom and she loved it too.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different #plumreview I liked this easy to read book. It was unusual and interesting.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! This is the second book I have read from this author and I am liking her more and more. I will be looking to pick up her other books soon
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites I read this book for the first time many years ago, but I still love coming back to it. I love the writing style and the characters. To me this book is a timeless piece incorporating the perfect amount of tragedy, romance, hope, and fantasy.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fun read! I read Water for Elephants around the time the movie adaptation came out. I read it in one sitting and loved it! In the story, Jacob Jankowski is a lively, cantankerous, ninety-something year old living in a nursing home. A circus setting-up across the street from the home triggers his memory and he begins to remember the months he spent travelling with a circus after the sudden death of his parents. At the circus, he meets and falls in love with Marlena who is married to the charismatic, unpredictable and vindictive animal trainer August. Water for Elephants is a wonderful love story with an eclectic complement of characters set to the chaotic but still hierarchical life of a travelling circus. An enjoyable read that deals with the desperation and poor working conditions of the depression era as well as the issue of animal cruelty. The book effectively gives us a glimpse of the crude reality under the big top of the greatest show on earth. A fun read I really hope the movie does the book justice.
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A lovely story The movie wasn't bad, but the book was still better. Definitely Sarah Gruen's best work. I love stories that are set in the circus, and this one doesn't disappoint. The narration by the aged main character was a nice touch, and the love story is beautiful. A must-read. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it!!!!! Well written; telling the story from past to present. Many times I laughed out loud, when the men want to fight at the nursing home! The ending is perfect.
Date published: 2016-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it just as much as the movie! I loved this book! I had watched the movie adaptation first and I just had to read it. I am glad that I did since this story kept me wanting more. I love how this story begins with the main character Jacob remembering his past life and the hardships he endured. It is heartbreaking in its cruelty but uplifting with its love.
Date published: 2015-04-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable read! This is a well written story, capturing the challenges of the times affecting men, women and beasts.
Date published: 2015-02-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fun, easy, and rewarding read I thoroughly enjoyed this book and got immersed in the vivid world of a depression-era circus. Really, the book’s only fault is that it starts with its end. All along I knew what was coming, which stole some of the magic.
Date published: 2014-11-01
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 5 out of 5 by from Water for Elephants Extremely unique. Unlike anything I've ever read before. Author captured the attitudes of the animals and the relationships between performers and workers artfully.
Date published: 2013-07-16
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 5 out of 5 by from Such a Moving Story I really enjoyed this book. The end tied up so nicely; not only was it somewhat surprising, but you become emotionally attached to the main character. I have yet to watch the movie...I really hope it does the book justice.
Date published: 2012-10-19
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 3 out of 5 by from How much water can elephants really drink? I must say this was a well written novel, which did keep me interested throughout reading it. I was a little disappointed in how quickly the end of the novel got wrapped up and felt like I got jipped. The novel's prologue definitely grabs your attention and gets you to keep reading. The novel is set somewhere between 1998-2002 I would guess by how old the central character is and the early 1930s. The old man Jacob starts to remember his past when a circus rolls into a lot across from the nursing home which he lives in. The novel is about a veterinary student that because of reason I won't mention ran off and joined the circus. He quickly becomes the shows vet and falls in love with one of the performers. The novel has some very sad points throughout it that gives it a very grave tone while it gives you quite a few uplifting points. I primarily read it because my fiancée liked it a lot and I figure if someone who normally never reads likes a book, it might be worth checking out. It might just be me wanting more out of the novel so check it out and see what you think.
Date published: 2012-03-12
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 loved it! I first picked this book up because my mother in law recommended it to me. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. It took me no time at all to finish it. as I read it I had a clear picture of it and I remember thinking wow this could be an awesome movie if done right. once the movie did come out of course I had to go see it. I was VERY disappointed in the movie but i loved the book.
Date published: 2012-01-16
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 4 out of 5 by from great read loved this book. Didnt want to put it down. Going to watch the movie soon...the books are always better.
Date published: 2011-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING So very touching! A wonderful story makes this book a must read!
Date published: 2011-08-19
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 4 out of 5 by from The tragedy of the circus I felt compelled to buy "Water for Elephants" based solely on the beautiful cover, but was hesitant to read it knowing that the content would be harsh. "Water for Elephants" is based on the travelling train circuses of the 1930's during the Great Depression. A now elderly Jacob reflects on the love that develops between himself and Marlena and the menagerie of animals they vow to protect. In particular, Rosie the elephant will linger on in your thoughts long after the book ends. Put aside your reservations and read "Water for Elephants"!
Date published: 2011-07-23
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 It was okay I haven't watched the movie yet I am basing this soley on the book. It was an interesting premis and I liked the characters, don't read it if you don't like descriptive gore/animal cruelty, I read to escape not to be repulsed that was the only think I didnt like about it.
Date published: 2011-07-09
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 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I bought the book and read it from cover to cover on the three hour bus ride home from university. It pulls the reader in and shares the complex and amazing life of a circus performers. The book ties together at the end so perfectly, I have already lent it to one friend and have two others waiting. I would suggest this book to anyone who wants a strong and powerful read that is sure to touch your heart and leave you thinking.
Date published: 2011-06-13
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 Truley Amazing I could not put the book down. I purchased this book specifically to take on vacation. I learned how to read in a pool; a floaty noodle under my legs, mid back and underarms, lay back and continue to be engrossed in the wonderful story that Sara Gruen wrote for our pleasure. A tough life the circus life but Sara expressed it unbelievably.
Date published: 2011-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A MUST READ!!!! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! Just one word AMAZING! This book captures the heart and soul of a reader through the words written on the pages. I must say, that thiswas one of the best books i have read.. in my opinion and many othersi have talked to. This book has sooo much romance and very emotional parts to it.I do not recommend this book to the young ones, where there is some inappropriate content in it. But, that is no problem because the book, hands down, is fantastic. Best story since the Notebook or anything like that. I truly suggest people to read this book.
Date published: 2011-05-24
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 4 out of 5 by from Very fun and exciting. I couldn't put it down. It was a very fun and exciting novel. I got to know and feel for the characters really quickly. Great read!
Date published: 2011-05-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed this book Well-written. Liked the pace of the storytelling and the switch between time periods was flawless. Admire the protagonist's strength in character and conviction throughout the eras. Touching. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2011-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Water for Elephants Absolutely loved this book. Read it over a vacation and could not put it down. I can't imagine anyone not liking this book
Date published: 2011-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book in a LOOOOOOOONG time. This book was wonderful. It was charming and endearing; I never wanted to put it down. The characters were so well rounded, not one of them fell short of amazing. You will laugh, cry and even fall in love with an elephant named Rosie or maybe a midget clown and his pug.
Date published: 2011-05-11
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 Great Read! I thought this was an awesome book. At about halfway thru this i was completely hooked and couldn't put it down. Its awesome and really gives you a feel for life in the early 30s.
Date published: 2011-04-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Neat Concept. I chose to read this book because of all the hype surrounding it. I'm not gonna lie and say that I want to re-read it a thousand times and that I fell absolutely in love with it. Because I didn't. I like the whole idea of leaving your previous life behind and running away to start fresh. I think its what attracted people to this book, the whole concept jumping on a train and joining a circus is exciting and crazy. The book really was good. I liked how it was told and the ending made me smile. I like how Gruen ended it. Overall it's a good read, I'm happy I read it. Random Sidenote: I watched the movie...the book was better. No surprise there though. That's usually the case.
Date published: 2011-04-30
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 Delightful! What a nice story. It had its rough moments to get through but all in all I thought it was a great book.
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 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 4 out of 5 by from Rosie Stole My Heart I absolutely devoured this book in one day, good thing it rained all weekend. The story was smooth, enchanting, mesmerizing....someone commented that the ending was predicable so i was expecting something totally different..i think the ending was perfect. And i have to say that Rosie stole my heart :)
Date published: 2009-02-22
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