- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 26 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
- Audible.com Release Date: May 24, 2006
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000G12CEK
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Water for Elephants Audible Audio Edition – Unabridged
|New from||Used from|
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
The main character is a cantankerous, still-sharp 93-year-old man, and his frustration at being trapped in an old man's body is palpable. The story of his incredible life and adventures with the Benzini Brothers circus unfolds in a way that is emotionally wrenching, and yet flashes of good humor pervade throughout. The characters are richly drawn, and even the animals are given complex personalities that make them a pivotal part of the story. There is something in the novel for everyone: it is equal parts adventure, mystery, fictional memoir, love story, and historical account.
I highly recommend this book!
The story is related in the somber tones of the Depression, the hardscrabble and often unscrupulous business of a traveling circus and the heartless despots who make their fortunes on the backs of men who must do anything to survive. Star performer Marlena, an equestrian, is sensitive to the needs of her horses, although her mercurial husband, August, the trainer, is obsessively jealous and given to unspeakable cruelties. Uncle Al, Benzini Brothers circus owner-by-default, is a ruthless businessman who cares little for man or beast, engaged in a quest for fame to rival the great Ringling Brothers. With his advanced training in veterinary medicine, Jacob does his best to protect the animals from their harsh existence, especially Rosie, an elephant purchased to replace Marlena's lead horse. Jacob and Rosie share an affinity for one another, the huge creature at times almost human.Read more ›
Water for Elephants is told in the first person but from two different perspectives--Jacob Jankowski at 23 years of age and again, at 93 years old. Gruen seamlessly weaves the chapters between past and present. Jacob at 23 is finishing up his last semester at Cornell Veterinary School when a family tragedy causes him to flee. He finds himself on a train for the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth in 1931. Needing a vet, the circus hires young Jacob to tend to their menagerie. Jacob at 93 resides in a nursing home where he laments the curses of old age, the passing of his wife, and the waning affection of his family. The arrival of a visiting circus triggers a flashback to his youthful circus experiences.
1931 is a hard time for almost all Americans, and the circus workers are as hard hit as any. Most are one step away from being homeless and jobless. Conditions on the circus train are harsh for most. Many workers go weeks without being paid, and they tend to disappear during the night when times are tough (management has them thrown off the train). The menagerie is often times treated better than the workers. But the circus does provide three meals a day and a place to sleep--even it if might mean a horse blanket on a train bed floor. Jacob discovers very quickly that he's just about the only advocate the animals have and he must battle a ruthless owner (Uncle Al) and a crazy animal trainer (August).
Any circus has more than their fair share of interesting characters, and Gruen's circus is no exception.Read more ›
Through Jacob, the author Sara Gruen, presents us with a fascinating history of the American circus as well as a painful look at the time known as "The Great Depression". Gruens storytelling technique is enhanced by the period circus photos (circa 1920-30) that appear at the beginning of each chapter.
The eccentricities of the characters as well as the alarming treatment of both animals and performers propels the story and mezmerizes the reader. The complicated interpersonal relationships of the circus "family" is deftly interwoven with that of the rest home "family".
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read so many books, that I remember few of them. But this book is one of the most memorable I've read. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Marilyn Kircus
This was a very good read. Really enjoyed the inside circus stuff and the thinking of a 90 (or 93) year old.Published 4 days ago by Jacktown Spartan
I absolutely loved this book. I picked to read it because I had seen the movie and enjoyed it and I must say, the movie does not do this book any justice. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Evan Sunderman