Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants : a novel for everyone who dreamed of running away to the circus

4.09 (1,401,736 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Great story, loads of fun; hard to put down.' STEPHEN KING

The Great Depression, 1929.
When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and utterly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits in the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth: a second-rate travelling circus struggling to survive by making one-night stands in town after endless town. Jacob, a veterinary student now unable to finish his degree, is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. He meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.

Illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place, Water for Elephants tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds, in a world in which love is a luxury few can afford.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 32mm | 320g
  • Two Roads
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • none
  • 0340962720
  • 9780340962725
  • 88,845

Review Text

I loved Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Great story, loads of fun; hard to put down. So what if the heroine weighs 2500 pounds? Stephen King
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Review quote

Allow yourself to be carried away by this vibrant and superbly written book * Daily Express * An imaginative modern fairy story, teeming with eccentric characters * The Times * Great! * Giffords Circus * Gorgeous, brilliant and superbly plotted, I am unabashedly in love with this book * Joshilyn Jackson, author of GODS IN ALABAMA * The writing conjures up the smells and sounds of the circus, the excitement and the magic, as well as the rather tawdry seediness and the both casual and overt brutality . . . The delightful, fairy-tale ending left me smiling for days at the imagery conjured up by it. * New Books * It's a romantic story that's set in an evocatively rendered era. * Heat * Definitely worth catching up with if you've missed it so far. * Choice * The ending gives you a lift and shows that good triumphs over evil. * Epoch Times * This masterpiece of storytelling is a book about what animals can teach people about love. * Susan Cheever * Lovely and mesmerising. * Kirkus * The most magical, haunting novel I've read in the past few years. * Daisy Waugh, Tatler * One of my favourite reads last year. It was so cinematic I just knew there would have to be a Hollywood movie. . . . Star of both the book and the movie is Rosie the elephant who is more intelligent and photogenic than any other member of the cast. And that's saying something because the two main human stars are the impossibly beautiful Reese Witherspoon and Twilight heart-throb Robert Pattinson * The Sun * Trust us, Water for Elephants is going to be one of the surprise hits of 2011. Sara Gruen's very readable novel is a story of impossible love set in the circus world during the 1930s and is set to be made into a blockbuster film starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. You heard it here first. * Good Housekeeping * You are so immersed in circus life that you are completely blinded by the thrilling, fatal dazzle of sequins and sawdust. * Daily Telegraph * There is a tender story of first love, of murder, mayhem and animal and human brutality, of hucksters, whores and the general hoopla created when the circus rolls into town ... This book is every bit the fabulous escapist entertainment that the big top once was. * Sunday Express * Gruen brilliantly conjures up the whole brouhaha of herding punters into the temporary magic of the big top, and the harsh economic reality of sustaining the show. Both exotic and erotic, Water for Elephants is filled with colour and passion but is also charged with an elegiac sense of loss for an entire way of life. * Financial Times * Gruen's portrait of this world is satisfyingly rich and outlandish... Any reader of this inspiring novel (written in only a month) will be immersed in circus life; blinded by the thrilling, fatal dazzle of sequins and sawdust. * Daily Telegraph * Water for Elephants is fun, sweet and thrilling and will pull you into the mysterious life of the circus so far that you won't want to leave. * Guardian * I loved Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Great story, loads of fun; hard to put down. So what if the heroine weighs 2500 pounds? * Stephen King *
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About Sara Gruen

Sara Gruen is the internationally bestselling author of Water for Elephants and At The Water's Edge. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide.
Water for Elephants was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz.
She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and three children.

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Rating details

1,401,736 ratings
4.09 out of 5 stars
5 40% (555,010)
4 37% (520,022)
3 18% (245,466)
2 4% (60,272)
1 1% (20,966)

Our customer reviews

This was a great disappointment. The circus background is interesting and well researched, but the characters are superficial and boring. Apart from the feisty Jacob of the nursing home, the rest of the characters are two dimensional and underdeveloped. I felt I was reading a simple fairytale for adults. Definitely Chick Lit for the beach only. My edition contained an excerpt from another book, Ape House, which is written in a totally different style and seems much more engaging.show more
by siobhan
this is one of the best books I have read in ages. The characters are immensely appealing, the subject matter fascinating and the writing is really quite beautiful. I got it out of the library after hesitating to buy it.. and now have ordered my own copy to re-read. Sat up till early hours because I couldnt bear to put it down . Delightful, hope the movie doesn't wreck it.show more
by sandie fletcher
Really enjoyed reading this book. It explores the relationships between the characters amist the trials and tribulations of a travelling circus. I found the book enjoyable and my imagination was given a lots to feast upon! i hope the film due this year fufills my expectations.show more
by Tony
Once you start, it's hard to put down this book! Romance, animals, history - it's all accounted for. I highly reccomend :)show more
by Adelaide Healy
A very enjoyable read. A book richly filled in with descriptive and interesting characters and scenarios. A very impressive job from the author that undertook an expansive research about the circus, the circus life and the behind the scenes. The book really kept my attention all through out and it just took me a few days to read it, plus it kept in my mind long after finishing it!! Enjoy the book ;)show more
by Melissa Farrugia
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