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Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants


Water for Elephants

valoraciones:
4/5 (206 valoraciones)
Longitud:
11 horas
Publicado:
Jan 12, 2015
ISBN:
9781510018525
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descripción

Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. In the Depression Era, Jacob, finding himself parentless and penniless, joins the Benzini Brothers ‘Most Spectacular Show on Earth’. There he meets the freaks, grifters, and misfits that populate this world: Marlena, beautiful star of the equestrian act; August, her charismatic but twisted husband (and the circus's animal trainer); and Rosie, the seemingly untrainable elephant Jacob cares for.
Publicado:
Jan 12, 2015
ISBN:
9781510018525
Formato:
Audiolibro


Sobre el autor

Sara Gruen is the author of the New York Times bestseller Water for Elephants and Riding Lessons. She lives with her husband and three children in a conservation community outside Chicago.

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Lo que piensa la gente sobre Water for Elephants

3.9
206 valoraciones / 721 Reseñas
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Reseñas de lectores

  • (3/5)
    Left penniless after his parents’ death, Jacob Jankowski quickly fell in love with the two stars of the circus: the beautiful performer Marlena and the elephant Rosie. However, Marelena is already married and her husband is sometimes completely brutish to her and the circus animals. With the circus owner on his side, her husband is very dangerous and Jacob will have a hard time escaping with his life and those he loves.

    I’ve heard wonderful things about Water for Elephants for years, but put off reading it largely because I worried about the amount of cruelty to animals I might find within its pages. There were a few really brutal bits, but they weren’t described graphically and weren’t too hard to get through. I’m kind of a softie about such things, so I’m guessing that this wouldn’t be enough to ruin the book for anyone else either.

    The characters made me glad I had decided to take a risk and pick this book up. The author does an incredible job sounding like an old man telling you his life story and like a young man living it. She also created characters I began to care about deeply, making this a very emotionally engaging story.

    While I loved these characters, I don’t think good characters are enough to carry a plot unless the main character experiences some personal growth and helps drive the plot. In this book, our main character Jacob was very passive. Throughout the book, he does next to nothing to change his own circumstances and the plot is driven entirely by external events. Just watching a character buffeted around by the world leaves me missing the sense of satisfaction I get when I see a character take charge of their circumstances. Obviously, this book has gotten a ton of praise and I’m sure a lot of people who like character driven novels will enjoy it more than I did.

    This review first published on Doing Dewey.
  • (5/5)
    Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen is one of my favorite books. The main character is an old man named Jacob Jankowski, that had lived his life on a traveling circus train. He arrives there after he learns the tragic news of his parents' death. He left Cornell University, where he was training to become a veterinarian, and hops onto the Benzini Brothers traveling circus train. Jacob tells the story as an old man, who is reliving his memories of his younger years, from his nursing home bed. He meets his soul mate, Marlena, and the struggles they went through to be together. Jacob rallies between the past and the present, and tells an excellent tale of a man trying to find happiness. The heart of the story is in the very last pages, and you will find yourself wanting to read more and more.
  • (4/5)
    Compelling, fast read.
  • (3/5)
    A perfect ending to a delightful book. Good summer reading.
  • (4/5)
    Great book highly recommended.
  • (3/5)
    I'd heard so much about this book over the years, including raves from some of my favorite authors. A friend loaned her copy to me and I was eager to get into it. The story is great, but I can't rave about this book. I hate that I can't, because there's no real reason. I don't think it was all the hype, either. There was just something that kept me from really connecting with this book, even though I was engaged with the story and wanted to know what happened. Jacob, the main character, just didn't seem that real to me. I felt like I should have known him better, yet when he did certain things, I couldn't understand his reasoning for it. That being said, this is a good book, and the ending more than made up for anything I was feeling throughout the story.
  • (5/5)
    I enjoyed the story and characters. A fast read that kept me turning the pages.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this book although I would argue with the comment on the front cover from the Sunday Express which describes the book as being fabulous escapist entertainment - which apart from the domestic abuse, animal cruelty and murders it is.
    Having said that I found it to be a very quick and easy read, I couldn't put it down.
  • (5/5)
    Since this novel came about originally as a National Novel Writing Month novel, I had to get this and see what it was about. I also have it showing up on so many Books to Read to be Well Read lists, that I wanted to see why the hub bub.I'm not normally a fan of the constant flashbacks, but this book does it in such a way that makes it an Interesting style. The way the author alternates between past and present is just the right mix and with some decent transitions as well. This adds to the fact that all the characters are holding my interest, such that I don't want to stop listening when I get to work or when I get home. There are a few things that I prefer to not see in fiction, due to trigger issues, though for some reason I could handle it in this book and the way it's portrayed. Perhaps because the characters are so compelling. Domestic Violence, a man trying to sweep it under the rug (for the good of the circus), and using mental illness as an excuse. So good... Until this point. I agree with the Main Character who beats the crap out of the abuser. A shame he got as good as he gave. It all works out to a decent ending at least.Over all, a very good, though somewhat depressing book. I'd almost call it a love triangle, but that wouldn't be fair to the writing. I'd recommend reading this. Loss of a half star for that which was noted above.
  • (4/5)
    This book held up on even a second reading. It's magical and spectacular, even while being dark and gritty. It's a romance not involving just a woman and a man; but involving a fierce love of animals. The poor poor circus animals. Honestly, that's the hardest part I had with the book, I get that this was set during the twenties, however, I hate reading about animal cruelty and these poor exotic animals (especially the elephant, Rosie) can't seem to catch a break, no matter what Jacob does. After finding out about his parent's tragic death and the loss of the family homestead, Jacob walks out of Cornell, one week away from receiving his diploma. He steals away on a train, not realizing that it was a circus one. Right before he is about to get thrown off the train, they realize that he is a veterinarian (albeit it one without a degree) and hire him on the spot. He starts to fall for the circus routine, the animals, and the beautiful Marlena (who is very off limits, being married to the menagerie manager). As a vet he is able to socialize with both groups of the circus, the workers and the performers. He quickly becomes well liked, which is a dangerous position to be in, when the manager is keeping an eye on you... and his wife. Beautifully brought to life and captivating, reading all about the circus was fascinating and even though I can't get on board with the animal stuff, I love to read all about it. A wonderful historical fiction novel that readers across the board will love.
  • (3/5)
    I enjoyed the narrative of the old man in the nursing home as he describes his feelings about aging and looks back at some scenes from his life, and the look at the harsh world of the circus in the 30s was intriguing. This book would have been a 4 for me except for some graphic sex scenes. Because others mentioned those I was on the lookout and was able to skip them for the most part.
  • (4/5)
    This book was amazing, completely captivating. I loved how it switched from the present and the past; both perspectives helped me understand what Jacob was going through. Jacob became a real person the more and more I read. I absolutely loved Rosie. This book showed me the good and bad of the circus; showing that the most spectacular things aren't always what they seem. I would recommend it to anyone.
  • (5/5)
    The ending. Oh, love, the ending. The entire book was wonderful and beautiful and incredibly hard to put down. I loved Jacob and his stories, but the ending? That made this book a five-star novel instead of four. (Note: I have never seen the movie and put off reading the book because the trailers left me uninterested. I am sorry I waited so long.)
  • (5/5)
    Best book ever. Loved all of it!
  • (5/5)
    Had read a few chapters of this book before Nov 2008, and I knew it's a good book. However, I wasn't able to finish reading it then due to some events taking place. I finally picked the book up again just as I was preparing for a holiday trip to Ko Chang. Was talking to a friend about bringing some books to read while on a relaxing beach holiday when she mentioned "Water for Elephants." It then hit upon me that yah, why not? I have yet to finish the book, might as well lug it with me to Thailand. And so I did.
  • (4/5)
    I read this book in one day. It's a real page turner, and I really enjoyed all the background about the circuses...interwoven into the story so cleverly...along with historical photographs. As literature...well, I'm not sure it really holds up. I suppose time will tell.
  • (4/5)
    I listened to and read this book, and I loved it both ways. Historical fiction with two different timelines, a circus story that doesn't shy away from how problematic circuses are/were, and really good character development for Jacob. A lot of sad, but still a great read.
  • (5/5)
    I don’t normally appreciate stories that flip back and forth between two or more time periods or sub plots. I find them distracting and annoying because the transitions are usually abrupt and jarring. Until now, the only book I’ve read that does the transition between present and past skillyfully is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg; Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is the second.

    Gruen tells the story of Jacob Jankowski, a ninety — or is ninety-three? — year old former circus vet whose life takes an exciting turn when a circus sets up shop across the street from his nursing home. The present-day circus sparks memories of Jacob’s own experiences with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, which plunged him right in the middle of love, hate, despair, and wild animals.

    Most of the story is told in flashbacks to the summer of 1931, and begins when Jacob’s parents are killed a few days before he’s scheduled to sit his final exams at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. Senseless with grief, he hops a train that just happens to be a cab of the Benzini Brothers. When Uncle Al the circus boss discovers Jacob is a Cornell educated vet, he pulls Jacob into the Benzini family and sets him to work caring for the animals in the circus menagerie. Along the way, Jacob falls in love — with Marlena the horse trainer as well as with the animals he cares for — especially Rosie, a bull elephant who only understands Polish.

    Back in the present, the older Jacob struggles with the limitations age has inflicted on him, all the while waiting for his family to come take him to the circus. When it becomes clear that his family has forgotten him, Jacob picks up his walker and gets himself across the street to the show. There he meets the boss, who is fascinated to discover Jacob was in the thick of one of biggest circus disasters of all time. During the course of their conversation, Jacob, ever the con-man, convinces the circus boss to take him along for the rest of the season, effectively running away with the circus for a second time.

    Gruen has done her homework and includes wonderful details of circus life in the 1930s, including real life stories like the elephant that was responsible for drinking all the lemonade made for the concession stands, and the paralysis — jake leg– suffered by the hard-drinking circus men and associated with drinking Jamaica Ginger Extract while real liquor was outlawed under Prohibition. The story moves quickly and contains enough action to keep the reader satisfied. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    I really liked this book!
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. As soon as I started reading it I couldn't hardly put it down. It's a great story about how love prevails. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good romance and drama story.
  • (4/5)
    I wasn't expecting so much drama here, but there it was. It made for a page turner story. More than that though I really enjoyed the storytelling. Besides, who doesn't like the circus. The element of adventure here also grabbed at me. I always enjoy a good story about leaving behind the civilized world and going on an adventure. This was certainly an adventure for Jacob. The audio version was superb as well. I do recommend the audio to those who have not read the book as of yet.
  • (4/5)
    I cried, I think. I loved this book from start to finish. Unfortunately I read it so long ago I can't remember anything else. I think this may be a reread soon.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed the circus history and the old photographs and it was interesting to see how far we have progressed in our treatment of animals. The story tears along, but as one reviewer below puts it, "the plot is overstuffed," and feels a bit trite and sentimental. It's a fun read, though.
  • (5/5)
    This is a very enjoyable book.It is the story of Jacob Jankowski who is a widower in his 90s he lives in an old folks home, his grown up children don't visit very often. He remembers the time in his early 20s when he dropped out of college after the death of his Parents and ran away to join the Circus. Sounds cheesy but its a really good read. He helps out with the animals as he was training to be a Vet, falls in love with Marlena one of the performers, she is married to a horrible man called August, the Circus is run by an other horrible man called Uncle Al. The Circus buys an Elephant called Rosie who understands Polish.The Circus moves from town to town this was during Prohibition and the Depression. Some of the workers haven't been paid and sacked they come back cause a riot let the animals out.Rosie kills August with good reason. Jacob and Marlena leave take Rosie and other Animals with them get married have Children. Jump 70 years Jacob is the old folks home and a new Circus comes to town, Jacob asks to join them selling tickets. Very good book this.
  • (3/5)
    I hated this book at first. As a matter of fact, I put it down, read a few others, and went back to this one. Once I picked it back up, I read it in a matter of days. I became emgrossed in the story, and envisioned a movie being made of it. It was raw, but also very good storytelling.
  • (5/5)
    "Water for Elephants" is an expertly-crafted historical novel that creates an engaging fairy tale love story and vividly captures the grittiness of a Depression era traveling circus. The framing story, which has the protagonist, Jacob Jankowski, at the age of 90 (or is it 93?) in the present day alternately looking back at his past adventures and reflecting on his current old age, adds a nice sepia tone to the rough grimy world of the 1930's. The surprise revelation towards the end is wonderfully effective and satisfying, as is the final little twist ending that brings Jacob's life full-circle.
  • (5/5)
    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about a traveling circus in the 20s. I also felt disgust, exhilaration, suspense, and anger, and probably some other emotions too. A young vet-to-be runs from home and college and joins a circus, quite by mistake. It's interesting that so many of the incidents in the story are based upon true happenings.
  • (2/5)
    This book symbolizes the reason why I am still reading YA books. I have recently become disillusioned with YA books because the majority of what I read is a recycled plot, recycled characters, with a recycled, often instalove romance. But then, I read this book. The story is unique, I don't loath the main character or his love interests, and the romance, while fairly fast, was not instalove. You'd think I'd love it, so why didn't I?Well, there was a lot of cussing. I'm generally tolerant of cussing in books because I can skip over it or change it to "bleep" when I read it. I was reading this via audiobook, so I couldn't do either of the things I usually do, but even so, I probably wouldn't have allowed mere cussing to make this book, which could have been a four or five star read, down to two stars. The problem, for me, was the sex. Or the vulgarity in reference to sex. When a character was having sex or naked, the detail the author gave was far, far too explicit, making me want to cover my ears. What's worse is that the book didn't need these details. It didn't even need most of those scenes, but the ones that were necessary for the plot did not need to be that explicit. Even though, overall, I liked the narrator, the fact that he kept giving so much detail for these things made me like him a lot less.Probably another reason why I didn't like the book as well is that I watched the movie (which was very good) first. For some reason I've found that most of the (admittedly few) times when I have enjoyed a movie more than a book it's because I watched the movie first. The movie cut most of the vulgarity and nudity in order to be PG-13, but it still kept the characters and story line. The movie also moved me more emotionally. It was very upsetting to see the abuse of Rosie, and I truly felt for Marlena's difficult position. In the book, the abuse of Rosie had a problem of being told rather than shown, and so it wasn't as moving, though I still did feel for Marlena in her difficult situation
  • (4/5)
    As the movie is coming out soon, I wanted to give the book a try. If I had to use one word to describe Water for Elephants, I'd use "clever." Gruen tells you, in the beginning of the book, that you are getting one thing--the classic love story, but she gives you something entirely different--the story of the fight against irrelevancy. We watch as Jacob (and his extension, Rosie) is forced, time after time, to sort himself out and to make himself valuable to people who have already dismissed him as worthless. The story is so painfully familiar and yet, with the circus elements, so exciting and different, that I couldn't put it down.

    I must add one criticism: Marlena's character is a cut-out. She's very basic, and she consistently acts as expected. It's clear that Gruen is in love with her main character, Jacob, and that Marlena is simply a prop for him. That's fine, and it works, but I think the novel would have been richer with a bit more depth in Marlena as she is so crucial to much of the story.
  • (3/5)
    The story absolutely drew me in for about the first 3/4 of the book. I didn't want to put it down; I just had to know what happens. However, about halfway through I started thinking about how the 1930s storyline just didn't really take me to the 1930s. The dialogue is in modern language and the descriptions of settings and characters were too vague. The photos helped, but that is a cop out. Still, I was invested in Jacob and had to know how the story ends. Well, once I got there, I was deeply disappointed. Without adding spoilers, I'll just say the last 1/4 of the book is unbelievable to the point of ridiculousness. It was also rushed. Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, if the author had spent more time describing the actions just before, during, and just after the climax of the plot, it would have come off better. However, it still would have been ridiculous. I really wanted to like this book, especially once I got into it, but the ending left me saying "WHAT??!?" and not in a good way. I give the first half of the book 5 stars, and the last quarter-ish 1 star, so I averaged it to 3.I would recommend reading the first 1/2 to 3/4, then just let me know and I'll tell you how it ends to save you from having to read it.