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'Great story, loads of fun; hard to put down.' STEPHEN KING
'Satisfyingly rich, outlandish and inspiring' Daily Telegraph
'Exotic and erotic, filled with colour and passion' FT
The Great Depression, 1929.
When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and utterly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits in the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth: a second-rate travelling circus struggling to survive by making one-night stands in town after endless town. Jacob, a veterinary student now unable to finish his degree, is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. He meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, 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.
Illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place, Water for Elephants tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds, in a world in which love is a luxury few can afford.
With its spotlight on elephants, Gruen's romantic page-turner hinges on the human-animal bonds that drove her debut and its sequel (Riding Lessons and Flying Changes) but without the mass appeal that horses hold. The novel, told in flashback by nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. When 23-year-old Jankowski learns that his parents have been killed in a car crash, leaving him penniless, he drops out of Cornell veterinary school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus, where he cares for a menagerie of exotic creatures, including an elephant who only responds to Polish commands. He also falls in love with Marlena, one of the show's star performers a romance complicated by Marlena's husband, the unbalanced, sadistic circus boss who beats both his wife and the animals Jankowski cares for. Despite her often clich d prose and the predictability of the story's ending, Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I read the book and was thoroughly entertained all the way through. For once the film wasn't a let gown either.
Water for elephants
Brilliant book.Had already seen the movie so knew what to expect.Well written excellent story.Thoroughly recommend it.Couldnt put it down.
Loved it. Didn't want it to end.