This is a great, glorious, big-hearted novel set in a travelling circus touring the backblocks of America during the Great Depression of the early 1930s. It's a story of love and hate, trains and circuses, dwarves and fat ladies, horses and elephants - or to be more specific, one elephant, Rosie, star of Benzini Bros Most Spectacular Show on Earth ...Read MoreThis is a great, glorious, big-hearted novel set in a travelling circus touring the backblocks of America during the Great Depression of the early 1930s. It's a story of love and hate, trains and circuses, dwarves and fat ladies, horses and elephants - or to be more specific, one elephant, Rosie, star of Benzini Bros Most Spectacular Show on Earth...When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, swindlers and misfits in a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that Jacob meets Marlena, the beautiful equestrienne who is married to August, a charismatic but violently unpredictable animal trainer. Jacob also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems unmanageable until he discovers an unusual way to reach her. Water for Elephants is a story that has it all - warmth, humour, poignancy and passion. It has an energy and spirit like the feeling under a big top when the show is about to begin. It is a novel that will win your heart.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2006-03-06 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. (May 26) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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