Water for Elephants: A Novel

Front Cover
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2011 - Fiction - 445 pages
2547 Reviews
Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its ownway of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out—orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive "ship of fools." It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act—in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Surprising, poignant, and funny, Water for Elephants is that rare novel with a story so engrossing, one is reluctant to put it down; with characters so engaging, they continue to live long after the last page has been turned; with a world built of wonder, a world so real, one starts to breathe its air.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
1080
4 stars
852
3 stars
366
2 stars
176
1 star
73

Exellent plot and characterization. - LibraryThing
The pace of the plot and the use of flashbacks work. - LibraryThing
Wonderful, magical storytelling on Gruen's part. - LibraryThing
The animal abuse was hard to read, though. - LibraryThing
Interesting premise. - LibraryThing
The ending made it all worthwhile. - LibraryThing

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ChristineEllei - LibraryThing

I know this book has been around for a while and I finally picked it off my "to be read" pile, blew the dust off and enjoyed it. The story is told by the same person at two different stages in his ... Read full review

Review: Water for Elephants

User Review  - M Crocker - Goodreads

have just finished reading Water for Elephants and instead of waiting a bit of time between reading the book and writing the review I'm not. I wanted to sit down and capture my feelings for this book ... Read full review

All 82 reviews »

About the author (2011)

Sara Gruen was born in Canada. She became a US citizen and was working as a technical writer here in 1999. Two years later she was laid off and decided to become a full-time writer of fiction. She is married and lives in North Carolina with her husband, three children, dogs, cats, horses and a goat. She is one of a very few number of people who has actually visited the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa. There she was researching the bonobos monkeys and began writing her novel, Ape House. Her earlier bestselling novel, Water For Elephants, will soon be made into a movie. In 2015 her title At the Water's Edge, made the New Zealand Best Seller's List.

Bibliographic information