Friday, December 2, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

About the Book

An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of Riding Lessons.

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is 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.

Beautifully written,
Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.


The New York Times said "Water for Elephants begins violently and then veers into weirder terrain”
That line wouldn’t encompass such a delight of a novel!  Everyone who is anyone has wanted to join the circus at one time or another...
I remember clearly exclaiming to a line of friends in Grade 1 (I was 6) and with a bright-eyed expression, a high pitch excited voice I said “I want to swim with Dolphins”.  Not that I was a swimmer or even had seen a dolphin in real life, at that stage.  My 6 year old self was adamant that one I would swim with dolphins.
This book has it all, sweeping romance, unbreakable friendship, heart wrenching sadness and grandeur.  I haven’t read a book like this since Atonement by Ian McEwan.  Subtle, seductive and incredibly dream worthy.  Gruen has a way with atmosphere and that is what the circus is about.
Jacob Jankowski is a veterinarian student at Cornell University, recently orphaned; he jumps a train – which happens to be The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth circus train.  A turn of fate finds Jacob the circus’ animal man.  That isn’t all the circus has in store for Jacob, there is Marlena – wife of August, the Equestrian Director; Kinko, Jacob’s clown roommate and let’s not forget Rosie, an Elephant who steals the show almost as quickly as she steals the readers heart.
What a story! A book where the heroine weighs more than I do – FINALLY! Just fabulous and yes I could gush till the circus comes to town...
Life is the Most Spectacular Show on Earth

About the Author

Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants has become one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of our time. Readers fell in love with Water for Elephants and its story of Jacob, a young man tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, and Rosie, the untrainable elephant. This instant #1 New York Times bestseller is now available in 44 languages and has over 3 million copies in print worldwide.  The movie version is in the works, starring  Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, and Robert Pattinson (2011 release).
Sara Gruen moved to the United States from Canada in 1999 for a technical writing job. When she got laid off two years later, she decided to try her hand at writing fiction. A devoted animal lover, her first novel, Riding Lessons, explored the intimate and often healing spaces between people and animals and was a USA Today bestseller. She wrote a second novel, Flying Changes, also about horses.

Thanks to Elmarie Stodart for the review copy!
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Shelagh said...

So glad you enjoyed this Kelly - I've been intrigued, perhaps I'll track it down. :)

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

I've never seen that particular cover before. It's really pretty.

Netherland said...

She does an astonishing job of combining everything from old fashion trains to characters with brain disorders. I cannot wait to get my hands on another one of her books!

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I was truly seduced by this book. Reading it was an unexpected and astonishing adventure that continued to resonate long after I had read the last page and closed the book.

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Water for Elephants is a delightful, moving book, and the ending was a very pleasant surprise. Also, if you want a special treat, listen to it on audiobook. The two readers, David LeDoux and John Randolph Jones, did a wonderful job of bringing both Jacobs (young and old) to life.

Marlene Detierro said...

This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I suppose it helps that I love circus books and freak show books, but 'Water For Elephants' is more a book on humanity, and what sometimes lurks beneath the smiles and happy faces of troubled minds. It's about greed and cliques, its about the depression era job desperation, its about abuse, and most of all its about the human heart.

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