Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

About the book

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth a second-rate travelling circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. Jacob, a veterinary student who almost earned his degree, 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. 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. Water for Elephants was a major movie starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.

Reviewed by Page Turners Reading Group:

The highest scoring book with the group this year. Wonderful atmosphere, rich description and exotic characters (human and animal). Gripping plot and fast paced story all the more enthralling as many of the incidents described were taken from real events.

Star rating: ****

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5 thoughts on “Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen”

  1. Review by Caroline Newton Reading Group:
    Strange topic. Warmed to it. Lovely ending. excitement. Good study of elephants. Elephant did it. Hard to get into. colourful. Brilliant old people’s home stories. Gook Links.
    Star rating: ***


  2. Review by Perspectives Reading Group
    The group enjoyed reading the book, leanred a great deal about the era and terminology.
    Star rating: ***


  3. Review by Lymington Reading Group
    A good story which I enjoyed though towards the end it dipped a bit! It certainly was eventful and gave a taste of circus life bakc in the 20s and 30s. What alot of characters involved! All in all a good read.
    Star rating: ***


  4. Review by Morning Tide WI, Lee-on-the-Solent
    A detailed story about life in a travelling circus between the wars. So gripping that few could put it down and a very clever ending.
    Star rating ****


  5. Review by Ems Valley U3A
    Fast moving, excellent characterisation, well researched. A few people objected to the cruelty especially to the animals but on the whole it was well received.
    Star rating ***


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