Water for Elephants (Paperback)
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DescriptionAs a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.
- Published: 01 May 2007
- Format: Paperback 350 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781565125605 ISBN 10: 1565125606
- Sales rank: 2,649
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Reviews for Water for Elephants
Must read book
I didn't know what to expect from this book. It was one of those instances when you buy a book on the mere whim; for me, the title seemed interesting. It seems a silly reason to buy a book because it had 'elephant' in the title, but I'll admit that is exactly what I did. The cover is beautiful and the backdrop, the 1930s American circus, was intriguing. Often with historical novels, there is the tendency to focus too much on the historical detail, as if that is what the reader is looking for; some google or wikipedia-esque history lesson. I am a history buff, but novels need to primarily focus on the story and character: and this book does exactly that. I enjoyed the way in which Sara Gruen weaved the circus backdrop into the main plot line. The detail in which she built the circus lifestyle, with the scenery and animals and language, felt so realistic and normal that they merely helped shape and support the story of Jacob. This is one of those books where it feels so real and the characters seem to ring true in your memory: you've met the Uncle Als and the Augusts and you've been the Jacobs and the Marlenas. It's a cliche, but I honestly didn't want to put this down. It's one of those rare books you read from start to finish and wish it could keep going when you have. Recommend to anyone. by H.
Oh My Books! Review
After watching the movie (which I liked), my sister gave me the book. I was really excited about reading it, I know it's a bestseller and that I was probably going to like it. I admit, the real reason that made me curious about this story was that Jacob, the protagonist, is a veterinarian, like me.
Jacob is a young man who is about to end his studies, when life gives him an awful surprise. His parents are dead, and he is left with nothing. Running from his old life, he jumps into the train of a circus called The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. He is saved from being hurled out of the train only because he's a veterinarian. The circus have a lot of animals, and they need to be taken care of.
Jacob is young, innocent and a veterinarian with a big love for animals. Taking care of the animals makes him happy, and that is how he met Marlena. Beautiful, fragile, but married.
I really liked this book. I loved how the author described life at the circus. It's obvious she investigated about circus, the people who worked at them, how they function, and their animals.
But what I liked more was the writing. The story is told by old Jacob. He's 90 years old, or 93, and his memories about the circus, his wife and his life don't die. He starts narrating the story, but suddenly you realize you are reading young Jacob while being at the circus.
Overall, Water for Elephants was a book that grabbed me from the beginning. Although I wanted more emotion between Marlena and Jacob, it's a romantic story, full of action, love for animals and a magnificent circus. by Maria Guajardo (GABY)
Oh how I loved this book! The story is told by its main character, Jacob who is now confined to a nursing home, reminiscing about his time spent in the circus. It tells of Jacob's life travelling in a circus during the Depression and of the harsh conditions for the workers in during this time. There are so many great characters in this novel that have great depth to them, including Rosie the Elephant.
This is much more than a novel about the circus, it has a great story that everyone should do themselves a favour and read! I'm looking forward to seeing whether the movie can capture just what a truly captivating story this novel tells.
Highly recommended. by Lauren
Shattered Memories Reviews: http://shatteredmemoriesreviews.com/
Water for Elephants is the first adult novel I've read and it certainly didn't disappoint.
The story starts off with ninety-three year old Jacob Jankowski recounting his life as a young man training at Cornell to be a veterinarian. He drops everything when his parents die and joins the circus.
Jacob was a very easily liked character. I'd have to say the flash forwards were something I really enjoyed. Gruen's seamless writing between past and present is breathtaking. Reading the difference between an older Jacob as opposed to a young one was really intriguing. It was interesting to hear him describe how his body has aged from the vital, handsome young man he once was and how he sees himself as this decrepit old man now. It was so sad but quite hysterical at the same time.
I didn't feel like I connected with Marlena too much. Yes, I liked her as a character, but I had a hard time seeing what Jacob thought was so special about her. A character I had a hard time deciding whether or not I liked, from the moment he was introduced, was August. In the beginning you want to like him when he's befriending Jacob, but when he starts slipping up and showing that he is really a very cruel man you immediately switch to despising him.
Now Rosie... what can I say about Rosie? She is the cutest elephant ever! I love how Gruen wrote her with such a loveable personality. Well, really how she wrote most of the animals with such great characteristics. Bobo the monkey was also super adorable. Needless to say, something that I had a hard time with while reading this was the animal cruelty. A while back, I read an article from PETA on how elephants - most circus animals, really - are treated and it was just awful. So it was really hard reading it in gruesome detail. But hopefully, it'll make people realize how circus animals are treated so they can make a stand against it.
Overall, Gruen has created a beautifully written novel. Her vivid descriptions and accurate portrayal of life in the circus during the Depression were captivating. Not once did I feel that the story dragged on and the ending left me satisfied. I also felt that the pictures of the circus at the beginning of the chapters were a nice touch.
I can't wait to see if I love the movie as much as I loved the book. Rob better not disappoint! ;) by Kayla (Shattered Memories Reviews)
- Top review
Water for the soul
Do you want to be transported to another age. Did you dream about running away to the circus? Does a touch of romance and a bit of mystery get your heart a thumping? Well this is the book for you. Sarah Gruen writes in the most readable way, from present day to memories of long ago past, this is a page turner. You can almost smell the animals, hear their roars and taste the fairy floss at the circus so descriptive are her words. You cannot help but feel pity and yet love for the 90 year old telling his story. You'll wish this story never ended, we want more! A fantastic book, one you'll recommend to friends. by Gillian Taylor