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IndisponibleWater for Elephants: A Novel
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Water for Elephants: A Novel

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Actuellement indisponible sur Scribd

Water for Elephants: A Novel

évaluations:
4/5 (4,853 évaluations)
Longueur:
444 pages
7 heures
Sortie:
May 1, 2007
ISBN:
9781565125858
Format:
Livre

Note de l'éditeur

Wondrous balancing act…

Pulls off a wondrous balancing act with the right amounts of drama, romance, and magic, and captures all the most fantastic stories from the era of train circuses. With the permanent closing of Ringling Bros., it’s an even more pertinent piece of historical fiction.

Description

From Scribd: About the Book

Jacob Janowski has no direction other than the one his train is taking. A penniless orphan, he boards the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth—a traveling circus. Once a veterinary student, Jacob is now in charge of caring for the circus animals. In the height of the Great Depression, the circus is both Jacob’s saving grace and his personal hell.

Then, he meets Marlena, a striking equestrian married to a brutal animal trainer, and Rosie, a supposedly untrainable elephant who might just save the circus.

As the bond between this ragtag group grows, it becomes a source of love and trust and eventually, their one and only hope of survival.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is a literary bestseller that has been made into a feature film starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson.

Sortie:
May 1, 2007
ISBN:
9781565125858
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

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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4853 évaluations / 721 Avis
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  • Perhaps the biggest hit to come out of National Novel Writing Month. It pulls off a wondrous balancing act with the right amounts of drama, romance, and magic, and captures all the most fantastic stories from the era of train circuses.

    Scribd Editors

Avis des lecteurs

  • (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)
    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.
  • (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.
  • (5/5)
    I enjoyed the story and characters. A fast read that kept me turning the pages.
  • (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.
  • (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)
    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.
  • (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 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)
    One of the most satisfying books I've read in years! The story is told by a 93 (he thinks) year old narrator who reflects back upon his days in the circus, where he tenderly trains a giant elephant and falls in love with a beautiful trapeze performer. A touching story about love in it's many forms.
  • (3/5)
    Sara Gruen’s novel, Water for Elephants, published in 2007 by Algonquin Books is a good story about a circus traveling in the U.S. during the Great Depression. The narrative carries the novel in spite of the rather shallow character development. The historical period is sketchy with a few interesting threads. I bought the book because I was limited in free time and could only read in brief intermittent time periods. The book required minimal attention and was entertaining. I wonder about the editing of the book, allowing contemporary jargon to slip into the 1930’s dialogue (e.g., “Whatever”). Water for Elephants is a light, beach, plane, motel novel that I recommend for the casual reader.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoy historical fiction for its power to immerse me in another time and place, but that only works if the author has done her research and the details have made it onto the page. Water for Elephants definitely falls into this category. If it had a sub-genre, I'd call it a "run away and join the circus" fantasy. Gruen provides so many details about life aboard a circus train during the Great Depression that I could see the story unfolding in my mind, which has definitely inspired me to rent the movie.This book was full of humor, although there were some grim scenes. Still, I'd characterize it as a light read, a good choice for vacation. For me, the most enlivening characters were the circus animals, particularly Rosie the elephant, who steals all her scenes. The intelligent animals, the outlandish circus folk and the setting of a moving train combined to give the novel a sense of fantasy, so it is forgivable when the occasional unbelievable thing happens.The only aspect of the story that didn't really work for me was the love story. In a movie, I would have said that the two leads had no chemistry. I don't think the romance was as developed as well as it could have been, and I am always suspicious when love happens too quickly or abruptly. Despite that flaw, Water for Elephants was a charming book and a great summer read.
  • (3/5)
    A somewhat entertaining love story about a circus veterinarian's love affair with a performer, told in flash backs by the 93-year-old protagonist. Fairly trite, however, particularly the ending.
  • (2/5)
    This Alex Award Title presents the story of Jacob Jankowski told in a series of flashbacks and moments of the present day as he reflects on his unsatisfying life now in as an old man in his 90’s in a nursing home to a more exciting period of his life as a young man working as a veterinarian for a Depression era circus. Traveling with this circus, Jacob meets the two loves of his life: a beautiful performer named Marlena and clever elephant named Rosie. He also meets his worst enemy, August, Marlena’s cold-hearted husband who not only abuses the animals he trains, but his wife too. As a naïve young man, Jacob is increasingly pressured to make a choice between his loyalties to the circus and what he feels in his heart is right as a human being.Judging by the criteria for Alex Award nominees, I could see how Water for Elephants could attract younger readers than its adult intended audience. The story has some exciting twists and turns, there is a love element, and the age old fantasy of running away to join the circus. However, there were definitely some adult elements in the story concerning sex or violence that would probably prevent me from recommending the book to a 12-year-old or young teen.Overall, I was not a big fan of this book, as I had heard a lot of hype and it did not live up to my expectations. Had I not needed to finish this book, I would have stopped reading it since this was typically not the type of story I prefer to read.
  • (2/5)
    Water for Elephants was disappointing. The writing was so-so. It wasn't so terrible that is was distracting, but it wasn't fabulous either. There was something about the dialog in particular that didn't seem right, like Gruen was unable to capture something inherent in conversation...what exactly it was I couldn't say. Like dialog in a movie or drama in which the actors can't act...it's forced or unnatural. I wanted to be moved by this book, and there where moments where I felt like I could almost cry...I was to that point of emotional involvement, and then...let down. The point would be dropped, or undeveloped, or the dialog would get in the way. Damn, almost had me there. And there were themes that could have been developed further, backgrounds better explained, which would have given more depth to the characters. For example, what was the deal with Camel and his family? It was mentioned that it had something to do with his soldiering in WWI, but what exactly happened? And Walter... I really wanted to hear about Walter's experience as a dwarf during those times, and at the circus. A cousin of mine, Faye, was also a dwarf during the depression, and the circus had tried to buy her too, but her parents wouldn't sell her. Her life would have been Walter's life. I never got a chance to talk to her about her experience during those times (she died earlier this year), and I felt that Gruen had a chance to tell a little bit of that story in Water for Elephants (and the lives of the other performers and workers) but she simply left it out. I mean, come on - Walter, Camel and Jacob are in that car for how many countless hours and it's never discussed?)...this was to the detriment of my ability to relate to or be invested in the characters. One point of the novel really annoyed me. August, the "equestrian director" is subject to bouts of extreme violence, creulty and jealousy. Rather than just accepting this as part of his personality, or that he is an abusive person, end of story, Gruen feels the need to characterize him, explicitly, as a paranoid schizophrenic. However, none of the symptoms that August exhibits are symptoms of schizophrenia. An unmedicated schizophrenic simply could not have functioned in August's capacity. Perhaps there is a case to be made that he had disasociative disorder (aka multiple personalities), but he was certainly not schizophrenic. It seems clear that he must have been diagnosed as such (pg 265), and if he was, I doubt he would have continued in his important capacity at the circus - it wouldn't have been simply 'worked around,' he would have been institutionalized...this is besides the fact that Marlena describes August as being "glamorous in the way only an equestrian director can be." (pg 222) Really? I never imagined equestrian directors as glamorous...but maybe I've never met the right one?There seems to be some controversy on the internet regarding whether it was Marlena who killed August instead of Rosie. I don't understand where this comes from. On page 326, Jacob states the following: "I was nevery entirely sure whether Marlena knew - there was so much going on in the menagerie at that moment, that I have no idea what she saw...Rosie may have been the one who killed August, but I also wanted him dead." What could be more obvious?New York Times reviewer Elizabeth Judd characterizes Water for Elephants in the following way: "Gruen's prose is merely serviceable, and she hurtles through cataclysmic events, overstuffing her whiplash narrative with drama (there's an animal stampede, two murders and countless fights). She also asserts a grand passion between Jacob and Marlena that's never convincingly demonstrated." Cleveland Plain Dealer reviewer, Karen Long wrote that Gruen batters readers "with barely servicable, primary-color prose, full of sobbing, shrieking, fighting, boozing and whoring that comes off at the clip of an exaggerated Saturday-morning cartoon." While there has been a lot of enthusiasm and praise for this book, I tend to agree with Judd and Long on this one. It just wasn't that great.
  • (2/5)
    So melodramatic, yet so boring... DNF.
  • (4/5)
    This isn't a book I would normally have read (as it isn't SF of fantasy), but my mother was given two copies by a friend who was evangelical about the book, so she passed one onto me.I took quite a while to get around to reading it, but greatly enjoyed it when I did.The story is mainly set in depression era American in the world of the travelling circus. One night per town. Even as the last member of the audience has filed into the big top for the show, the roustabouts outside are already starting to clear down the midway and the concession stands and load them onto the train for the next venue. It's a transient community with its own customs and rules.Those who watched 'Carnivale' will recognise the world of the couch dancer and the freaks, the performers and the roustabouts.This circus also has a menagerie with an assortment of animals to entertain the public. But this is the Depression, and things are tough. When the circus hits bad times, the manager will do anything to try and improve profits. As other circuses go down, the manager of Benzini Brothers arrives like a vulture at a carcass to scavenge what he can. And what he really wants is an elephant.He spends large sums of money to get one and then has to save money elsewhere to pay for it. Read the book to discover what 'redlighting' means... (nothing to do with brothels)The story is told through the eyes of Jacob Jankowski who joins up with the circus almost by accident, and retells the story as an old man in a nursing home.There's a really good twist near the end of the story and I like the way the writer handles it.Well worth reading - the writer got hooked into doing this book after seeing some old circus photos. She ended up doing masses of research, and really brings the world of the circus train to life.
  • (4/5)
    This was a wonderful read. I passed it on to my daughter who shared it with her book club. Everyone enjoyed it. I loved the fact that we got to see what an amazingly interesting life Jakob had led. So many times elderly people who live in assisted living or nursing home facilities aren't given the dignity of having a past. I could tell that the author had done extensive research on the life of the traveling circuses of that era. I actually wished she had added even more detail for a longer book. It was fascinating. Definitely recommended.
  • (3/5)
    This book was good, overhyped, but good. I like the interplay of past and present but the ending was a little much to take.
  • (3/5)
    I never thought a story about a circus could interest me soo much! It's so quaint! Imagine a circus in the sixties, in the deep America, with real characters...and animals, lots of animals. Good entertainment.
  • (5/5)
    It was absolutely not what I was expecting when I picked up this book but I'm glad it wasn't. This story was absolute perfection for me. Its high on my list of favorites.
  • (5/5)
    Very original setting. Excellent research by the author. Single man. Married woman in bad marriage plot. It was hard to put down. Used technique of Old Man alternating with stories of youth. Present tense. Somewhat like Bridges of Madison County.
  • (5/5)
    Loved it, inhaled it in a day. A quick, engaging read about unforgettable Jacob Jankowski, an old man trapped in an aging body, haunted by his former life as he bounces rudely from memory to present. His adventurous youth, spent tending animals in a travelling cirus provides a stinging contrast to the humiliating monotony he faces in the nursing home. Great character, solid writing, good story, many real and poignant moments, highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    Incredible, incredible, incredible... One of the best books I have read in a LONG time. Totally engrossing, I just couldnt stop reading it. I loved the main character, the history, the animals. I think this is only the authors third book or something and I am shocked at how polished it is and how it flows so easily. MUST READ!
  • (4/5)
    A sorta-disclaimer to begin with: I don’t read a lot of the more popular books I get asked about at work. I haven’t read The Help or Art of Racing in the Rain or Cutting for Stone or most anything that has a reading group guide. (I’m a little hypocritical with that last one.) It’s not that I have anything against these books, I’m just simply not interested. I’m sure they’re very well-written and intriguing. My problem with these books is that the cover copy is more concerned about how my life will be forever changed if I read this book, and if I’m going to read ONE BOOK THIS YEAR, it should be this. And not very much on what the book’s about.

    And I’m saying this because for a while, I wasn’t really interested in Water for Elephants. The only cover copy I read was full of these glowing reviews by every magazine at the time telling HOW ZOMG BEAUTIFUL IT WAS. What would have perked my interest immediately (and the eventual reason why I ended up reading it in the first place) was if they had thrown in “2006 NANOWRIMO WINNER.” I love NaNoWriMo, I devote myself to it every year. Of course I’m going to check out a book that was officially written for it. And here’s the thing, it’s a really good book to boot.

    Gruen’s descriptions of circus life (specifically, Depression-era) are just so incredibly vivid. You get the sense how desperate the workers and performers were just to get a steady job, but at the same time, how much the circus defines them. There’s such a complex social structure that we don’t get to see, but it’s so deeply ingrained into all of these characters. And even though the whole book isn’t all glittery descriptions of the circus acts, I like the behind-the-scenes moments so much more. Not because it strips away the glamour of this world, but it gives so much weight to the culture and life. And yet you still get swept up into the circus life.

    Even the glamour aspect works when you take in Jacob’s status as an unreliable narrator. He’s not so unreliable that you start doubting if any of the book happened, but it does give that touch of romanticism to the plot. I actually like that he plays up being a cranky old man when the narration shifts to the present. He could have very easily fallen into being a stereotype, but Jacob still remains a very real character. I like that he has the massive fear of becoming a forgotten vegetable (and again, we’re already seeing signs of him slipping), and it’s very real touch that I think helps with the book’s tone. And then we have young!Jacob, who’s very much the wide-eyed naïve. If we didn’t have the steady interjections from the present day Jacob, I would think younger Jacob is a little too wide-eyed and innocent, almost to the point that he’s playing up his whole white knight ideal. And to be fair, young Jacob’s boring. He doesn’t do much but mope and pine about Marlena. That said, I do like the friendships that he builds with the workingmen and Walter/Kinko. Especially Walter, I love that Jacob thinks that the two of them will get along, and Walter tells him to fuck off. If Gruen had even taken out the romantic plot, I think this book would have worked with the friendships.

    And then there’s August. Holy hell, that is a villain you love to hate. I like that he can be the most charming, slimy bastard imaginable, and then turn into a complete threat the next. (I didn’t want to touch on the film, as I haven’t seen it, but when I heard Christoph Waltz was playing August PERFECT CASTING OMG.) I’m not sure if I like the idea that he’s supposed to paranoid schizophrenic, as it does feel like an excuse for him to be a complete monster at times, but then again, it does feel like something that may have happened during the Depression.

    My big issue with the book is the romance. Much like young!Jacob, there’s really not much to Marlena. She’s very much a damsel that Jacob’s waiting to rescue, and the only time she shows her backbone is whenever someone threatens her horses. Also, like Jacob, Marlena seems too innocent and naïve. We know that she’s been involved with August long enough to know his ugly side, but she just weeps and waits for something to happen so she can run away. I would have liked her a lot more if she had been more bitter about love and called Jacob out a few times. And my big problem with the romance is that it’s too easy. Jacob and Marlena get away with their romance and everything’s tied neatly in a bow for them. I never got the sense of menace from August or Uncle Al or that their relationship was truly threatened by the way they gallivant around in the second half of the book. Even something like Marlena losing their first baby would have been fine. There’s really no consequences to the story, unless if you want to count Jacob being alone and forgotten in the nursing home. (And given the way the story ends, I don’t really give it to them.)

    Despite the problem with the romance, I do think it’s still an excellent read and very enjoyable at that. It’s worth giving it a look, especially for historical fiction fans.

    (*coughsupportNationalNovelWritingMonthcough*)