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.
""Water for Elephants" resembles stealth hits like "The Giant's House," by Elizabeth McCracken, or "The Lovely Bones," by Alice Sebold, books that combine outrageously whimsical premises with crowd-pleasing romanticism. . . . With a showman's expert timing, [Gruen] saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale."--The New York Times Book Review
Beautifully written, this work flows like water! With its powerful narrator stance, there is a real sense that the characters own this novel. It is the characters who drive the plot forward and cry out for the reader's engagement. There is a mystery to be solved too with an ending so surprising and clever you'll finish reading with a huge sigh of satisfaction. What a talented author!
I loved this book. My friends and I are using it for review this month in our book club. Delightful story, fabulous characters that are described in a way that allows the reader to feel like they are on the journey along with those in the story. A must to share with others. Easy to read which after a day at work makes it easy to get into and not so easy to put down. Enjoy...
I found this book to be an easy read and very enjoyable. It provides and insight into the circus world pre-1950's and the ageing process. The ending was a suprise and I have passed onto many of my friends. I highly recommend this book.
This is truely a book worth reading! Filled with characters that jump off the page, it is really easy to forget that this is a work of fiction, so fantastically descriptive are the words. It's a perfect blend of fun, yet also throws in several adult elements, such as love. There were many suspenseful bits and the main character was one of the most relatable ones I've read in ages. Highly recommended
I was a little reluctant to read this as the context of a circus didn't excite me. But on the recommendation of a friend, I got it. I was quickly drawn into the story and thoroughly enjoyed it. The ending was a bit of a stretch, but having been drawn into the characters, it was still satisfying.
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