Water for Elephants: A Novel

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Algonquin Books, 2006 - Fiction - 350 pages
2467 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 own way 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.

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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

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User Review  - engpunk77 - LibraryThing

Very satisfying story. The abuse was not too descriptive as to turn me off or ruin my day, and the resolution is complete and happy-making (I really like this word, coined by Scot Westerfeld of the ... Read full review

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This book is not only inspirational, but an amazing read everyone should try. I loved this book for the romance, thrill, adventure, and the animals of course! I never would have thought to read this book, but after trying it, I fell in love. Give the book a try.

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About the author (2006)

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.

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