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Water for Elephants
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When his parents are killed in a traffic accident, Jacob Jankowski hops a train after walking out on his final exams at Cornell, where he had hoped to earn a veterinary degree. The train turns out to be a circus train, and since it's the Depression, when someone with a vet's skills can attach himself to a circus if he's lucky, Jacob soon finds himself involved with the animal acts-specifically with the beautiful young Marlena, the horse rider, and her husband, August. Jacob falls for Marlena immediately, and the ensuing triangle is at the center of this novel, which follows the circus across the states. Jacob learns the ins and outs of circus life, in this case under the rule of the treacherous Uncle Al, who cheats the workers and deals roughly with patrons who complain about blatant false advertising and rip-off exhibits. Jacob and Marlena are attracted to each other, but their relationship is fairly innocent until it becomes clear that August is not merely jealous but dangerously mentally deranged. Old-fashioned and endearing, this is an enjoyable, fast-paced story told by the older Jacob, now in his nineties in a nursing home. From the author of Riding Lessons; recommended for all libraries.-Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. at Oneonta Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

" Novelist Gruen unearths a lost world with her rich and surprising portrayal of life in a traveling circus in the '30s. An emotional tale that will please history buffs-- and others." "-- People" " Gritty, sensual and charged with dark secrets involving love, murder and a majestic, mute heroine (Rosie the Elephant)." -- Parade " "Water for Elephants" resembles stealth hits like "The Giant's House," by Elizabeth McCracken, or "The Lovely Bones," by Alice Sebold, books that combine outrageously whimsical premises with crowd-pleasing romanticism. . . . With a showman's expert timing, [Gruen] saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale." -- The New York Times Book Review "Has a ringmaster's crowd-pleasing pace" - Entertainment Weekly "You'll get lost in the tatty glamour of Gruen's meticulously researched world, from spangled equestrian pageantry and the sleazy side show to an ill-fated night at a Chicago speak-easy" ""Water for Elephants" resembles stealth hits like "The Giant's House," by Elizabeth McCracken, or "The Lovely Bones," by Alice Sebold, books that combine outrageously whimsical premises with crowd-pleasing romanticism. . . . With a showman's expert timing, [Gruen] saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale."--The New York Times Book Review When his parents are killed in a traffic accident, Jacob Jankowski hops a train after walking out on his final exams at Cornell, where he had hoped to earn a veterinary degree. The train turns out to be a circus train, and since it's the Depression, when someone with a vet's skills can attach himself to a circus if he's lucky, Jacob soon finds himself involved with the animal acts-specifically with the beautiful young Marlena, the horse rider, and her husband, August. Jacob falls for Marlena immediately, and the ensuing triangle is at the center of this novel, which follows the circus across the states. Jacob learns the ins and outs of circus life, in this case under the rule of the treacherous Uncle Al, who cheats the workers and deals roughly with patrons who complain about blatant false advertising and rip-off exhibits. Jacob and Marlena are attracted to each other, but their relationship is fairly innocent until it becomes clear that August is not merely jealous but dangerously mentally deranged. Old-fashioned and endearing, this is an enjoyable, fast-paced story told by the older Jacob, now in his nineties in a nursing home. From the author of "Riding Lessons"; recommended for all libraries.--Jim Coan, SUNY College at Oneonta "Library Journal " "For pure story, this colorful, headlong tale of a Depression-era circus simply can't be beat. Heroes, villains, romance, a wild-animal stampede! Big fun from page 1." Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly: "Best & Worst 2007"" "[An] arresting new novel. . . . At its finest, "Water for Elephants" resembles stealth hits like 'The Giant's House, ' by Elizabeth McCracken, or 'The Lovely Bones, ' by Alice Sebold, books that combine outrageously whimsical premises with crowd-pleasing romanticism. . . . Black-and-white photographs of real American circus scenes from the first half of the century are interspersed throughout the novel, and they brilliantly evoke the dignified power contained in the quieter moments of this unusual brotherhood. . . . With a showman's expert timing, [Gruen] saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale." "New York Times Book Review " Vibrant . . . gritty, sensual, and charged with dark secrets involving love, murder, and a majestic, mute heroine (Rosie the Elephant). "Parade" Novelist Gruen unearths a lost world with her rich and surprising portrayal of life in a traveling circus in the '30s. An emotional tale that will please history buffs--and others. "People" [This] sprightly tale has a ringmaster's crowd-pleasing pace. "Entertainment Weekly" A compulsive page-turner . . . a fascinating setting and a richly anecdotal story that's enjoyable right up to the final, inevitable revelation. "The Onion" A rich surprise, a delightful gem springing from a fascinating footnote to history that absolutely deserved to be mined. "Denver"" Post" One of the many pleasures of this novel is the opportunity to enter a bizarrely coded and private world with its own laws, superstitions and vocabulary. . . . I couldn't bear to be torn away from it for a single minute. "Chicago"" Tribune" You'll get lost in the tatty glamour of Gruen's meticulously researched world, from spangled equestrian pageantry and the sleazy side show to an ill-fated night at a Chicago speak-easy. "Washington"" Post" "Riveting." "The Toronto Globe and Mail" Life is good for Jacob Jankowski. He s about to graduate from veterinary school and about to bed the girl of his dreams. Then his parents are killed in a car crash, leaving him in the middle of the Great Depression with no home, no family, and no career This lushly romantic novel travels back in forth in time between Jacob s present day in a nursing home and his adventures in the surprisingly harsh world of 1930s circuses just like a circus, the magic of the story and the writing convinces you to suspend your disbelief. "Booklist" Old-fashioned and endearing, this is an enjoyable, fast-paced story. "Library Journal" "Lovely and mesmerizing...genuine talent." "Kirkus Reviews" A "page-turner...Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book." "Publishers Weekly" In this thrilling, romantic story set in a traveling circus in the 1930s, Sara Gruen has a Big Top s worth of vivid characters and an exhilarating narrative that kept me up all night. From the perseverance of a terrier named Queenie, to the charm of Rosie the elephant, this masterpiece of storytelling is a book about what animals can teach people about love. Susan Cheever, author of" My Name Is Bill" "The circus, the Great Depression, a complex elephant, equally complex love, the mists and twists of memory articulated in the utterly winning voice of a very old man who's seen it all these are the irresistible elements of "Water for Elephants." Sara Gruen has written an utterly transporting novel richly full of the stuff of life." Robert Olen Butler "So much more than a tale about a circus, "Water for Elephants" is a compelling journey not only under the big top, but into the protagonist's heart. Sara Gruen uses her talent as a writer to bring that world alive for the reader: I could smell it, taste it, feel every word of it. This is a fiction reader's dream come true." Jeanne Ray, author of "Julie and Romeo Get Lucky" Gorgeous, brilliant, and superbly plotted, "Water for Elephants" swept me into the world of the circus during the Depression and it did not let me go until the very end. I don t think it has let me go even now. Sara Gruen has a voice to rival John Irving s, and I am hopelessly, unabashedly in love with this book. Read it. Joshilyn Jackson, author of "Gods in Alabama" An entirely original, captivating story of finding love in a down-at-the-heels traveling circus in the Great Depression. Sara Gruen writes with great tenderness and breathtaking drama which makes the novel impossible to put down. Stephanie Cowell, author of "Marrying Mozart"" "Gritty, sensual and charged with dark secrets involving love, murder and a majestic, mute heroine (Rosie the Elephant)."--Parade "[An] arresting new novel. . . . At its finest, Water for Elephants resembles stealth hits like 'The Giant's House, ' by Elizabeth McCracken, or 'The Lovely Bones, ' by Alice Sebold, books that combine outrageously whimsical premises with crowd-pleasing romanticism. . . . Black-and-white photographs of real American circus scenes from the first half of the century are interspersed throughout the novel, and they brilliantly evoke the dignified power contained in the quieter moments of this unusual brotherhood. . . . With a showman's expert timing, [Gruen] saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale."--New York Times Book Review "Vibrant . . . gritty, sensual, and charged with dark secrets involving love, murder, and a majestic, mute heroine (Rosie the Elephant)."--Parade "Novelist Gruen unearths a lost world with her rich and surprising portrayal of life in a traveling circus in the '30s. An emotional tale that will please history buffs--and others."--People "[This] sprightly tale has a ringmaster's crowd-pleasing pace."--Entertainment Weekly "A compulsive page-turner . . . a fascinating setting and a richly anecdotal story that's enjoyable right up to the final, inevitable revelation."--The Onion "A rich surprise, a delightful gem springing from a fascinating footnote to history that absolutely deserved to be mined."--Denver Post "One of the many pleasures of this novel is the opportunity to enter a bizarrely coded and private world with its own laws, superstitions and vocabulary. . . . I couldn't bear to be torn away from it for a single minute."--Chicago Tribune "You'll get lost in the tatty glamour of Gruen's meticulously researched world, from spangled equestrian pageantry and the sleazy side show to an ill-fated night at a Chicago speak-easy."--Washington Post "Riveting." --The Toronto Globe and Mail "Life is good for Jacob Jankowski. He's about to graduate from veterinary school and about to bed the girl of his dreams. Then his parents are killed in a car crash, leaving him in the middle of the Great Depression with no home, no family, and no career...This lushly romantic novel travels back in forth in time between Jacob's present day in a nursing home and his adventures in the surprisingly harsh world of 1930s circuses...just like a circus, the magic of the story and the writing convinces you to suspend your disbelief."--Booklist "Old-fashioned and endearing, this is an enjoyable, fast-paced story."--Library Journal "Lovely and mesmerizing...genuine talent."--Kirkus Reviews A "page-turner...Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book."--Publishers Weekly "In this thrilling, romantic story set in a traveling circus in the 1930s, Sara Gruen has a Big Top's worth of vivid characters and an exhilarating narrative that kept me up all night. From the perseverance of a terrier named Queenie, to the charm of Rosie the elephant, this masterpiece of storytelling is a book about what animals can teach people about love." --Susan Cheever, author of My Name Is Bill "The circus, the Great Depression, a complex elephant, equally complex love, the mists and twists of memory articulated in the utterly winning voice of a very old man who's seen it all--these are the irresistible elements of Water for Elephants. Sara Gruen has written an utterly transporting novel richly full of the stuff of life." --Robert Olen Butler "So much more than a tale about a circus, Water for Elephants is a compelling journey not only under the big top, but into the protagonist's heart. Sara Gruen uses her talent as a writer to bring that world alive for the reader: I could smell it, taste it, feel every word of it. This is a fiction reader's dream come true." --Jeanne Ray, author of Julie and Romeo Get Lucky "Gorgeous, brilliant, and superbly plotted, Water for Elephants swept me into the world of the circus during the Depression and it did not let me go until the very end. I don't think it has let me go even now. Sara Gruen has a voice to rival John Irving's, and I am hopelessly, unabashedly in love with this book. Read it." --Joshilyn Jackson, author of Gods in Alabama "An entirely original, captivating story of finding love in a down-at-the-heels traveling circus in the Great Depression. Sara Gruen writes with great tenderness and breathtaking drama which makes the novel impossible to put down." --Stephanie Cowell, author of Marrying Mozart 0;Lively with historical detail and unexpected turns. . . . Water for Elephants is a rich surprise, a delightful gem springing from a fascinating footnote to history that absolutely deserved to be mined.1; 2;The Denver Post "Lively with historical detail and unexpected turns. . . . Water for Elephants is a rich surprise, a delightful gem springing from a fascinating footnote to history that absolutely deserved to be mined." --The Denver Post " You'll get lost in the tatty glamour of Gruen's meticulously researched world, from spangled equestrian pageantry and the sleazy side show to an ill-fated night at a Chicago speak-easy." -- "Washington Post" " At its finest, "Water for Elephants" resembles stealth hits like 'The Giant's House, ' by Elizabeth McCracken, or 'The Lovely Bones, ' by Alice Sebold, books that combine outrageously whimsical premises with crowd-pleasing romanticism. . . . Black-and-white photographs of real American circus scenes from the first half of the century are interspersed throughout the novel, and they brilliantly evoke the dignified power contained in the quieter moments of this unusual brotherhood. . . . With a showman's expert timing, [Gruen] saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale." -- "New York Times" Book Review " [This] sprightly tale has a ringmaster's crowd-pleasing pace." -- "Entertainment Weekly"

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