What readers think of Water for Elephants, plus links to write your own review.

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Water for Elephants

A Novel

by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen X
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2006, 335 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2007, 368 pages

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There are currently 52 reader reviews for Water for Elephants
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Elaine

Water For Elephants
This book was recommended to me by my sister. I was in the need of something new and different and picked it up. A third of the way through the book I called my sister and asked her why she felt I needed to read something so dark and dismal. She said keep reading. I did. Maybe the story mellowed or I became desensitized, I'm still not sure.I became a magnet to the book. It is a fantastical, realistic, sleazy, horrific and loving story about our society. (Which hasn't changed much.) But it touched my heart for the love of humans and animals despite the cruelty. I loved it.
Chris

I Tried Not to Like It!
I initially did not like this book. I could barely handle the nursing home/assisted living chapters. That hit a personal note with me because that is where I have spent my career. However, I kept reading, as the circus history and love story not only intrigued me, but pulled me in. As the story progressed, I understood both the past scenes and the present. Getting old is not for sissies and I have never really read anything first person about the frustrations that the elderly think about or feel. As the book was getting near to the end, I could hardly stand waiting for it to end, as I figured it would just solidify my first impression. However, it changed or I changed. I loved it. It was beautiful. I saw the brilliance of it all. One of my favorite all time reads. Took me through someone's life young to old and changed me. I would recommend it to the young, the old, people in the health care field, people that want to know about circus life, people that want what they read to affect them long after the book is done. BRAVO
Salvatore Barruzza

Amazing adventure
This book reads wonderfully. Ms. Gruen writes this story with 100% substance and no fluff. What surprised me the most was how she got into the male ego. She actually writes as if she knows what its like to be a man, its amazing how well she pulls it off. She must have studied the male ego because she hits it right on the head. She has recreated
a world long gone with perfect detail. She is selfless in telling the story by not overwriting or filling pages with worthless prose. Sara gets right to the point of drawing the circus in our minds and not wallowing in worthless information. A great ride, I wish that it would never end.
Melissa

I want an elephant!!
Upon leaving childhood I started to become disturbed by circuses and this book reiterated that thought for me. Though, I could practically smell all the old wonderful circus smells (and some not so wonderful smells!)

I loved all the characters, both human and animal! Okay, well not all the characters, I was rooting against the bad guys!

I also enjoyed the use of the narrator's flashback. So often we forget that our elderly are still people, they had a life, they had experiences, and they are more then mere children in aged bodies.

Truly a book to invoke memories and initiate new thoughts on our beliefs, behaviors and acceptance of others behaviors.
butterybooks

90 something year old Jacob my favorite
I loved the character of Jacob when he was ninety or ninety-three. He has been there, done that as he reflects on his life on a depression era circus train. When I think of Water for Elephants, I don't see 23 year old Jacob and Marlena and the circus gang, I see this old man who still stands up for his rights, mainly his right to live his life as he sees fit. The whole story is developing this one character - You go 90 something year old Jacob - enjoy!!

Rosemary was another character I enjoyed - so patient, so sincerely understanding.

My main issue with the book - Water for Elephants - not the title I would have chosen. A great title but I don't feel that the book reflected the significance needed for that name. As I was reading, I kept expecting something to exhibit "Water for Elephants" besides McGuinty.

This read was chosen for my book club and what a fun book to plan a party around, would definitely recommend this book to friends, family and fellow book clubbers out there.
Skinner

Good
I did thoroughly enjoy the book, but as an animal lover, I did struggle through some parts of the story. I guess you just have to tell yourself "it's just a story, it's just a story".
Sue Ellen

Almost too good to be true (even in a fictional novel)
I love stories about or that include animals. However, I go into them knowing that most such stories have sad endings. I was bracing myself all the way through this for terrible things to happen to the people and the animals. In some cases, this was true. But, at certain point in the book, it just seemed everyone was scooped up and taken to Nirvana.

I also wondered why the conflict between Marlena, Jacob and M's husand couldn't have been resolved by getting rid of him. After all, Jacob was good with Rosie, spoke Polish, as did another circus worker. M's husband was bad with the elephant and did not speak the language she was trained in. Why didn't Uncle Al get rid of him? He obviously caused other problems in the circus and I can't for the life of me see why he would be in charge of the animals. Dreadful man.

At the semi-conclusion, where Jacob was scooping up Rosie and the horses, I was yelling in my mind, 'Don't forget BoBo!' And, of course, he didn't.

Almost too good to be true. However, I would love a follow-up novel by Ms. Gruen, going into more detail about the zoo years and the farm years. With lots of happy stories! If the worst thing that befalls them is the boys spilling milk 4 times that day, I can handle that.
Sue Keehnen

Yes, good book.
One of my discussion groups here in Spokane read this book and it was one of the rare books that we all enjoyed reading. Most of us like books that are more in depth than this one is but enjoyed the story line and how Jacob would "come out" at the end. (The deeper books don't appeal to our one or two older ladies who want a "good" read, i.e., something gentler and no sex-drugs-rocknroll.) However we all agreed that this was an enjoyable book.

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