Title: Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Source: Purchased (Audiobook)
Length: 11 hours 26 minutes (Unabridged)
Narrated by: David LeDoux, John Randolph Jones
Published by: Highbridge Audio
Nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. It s the Depression Era and Jacob, finding himself parentless and penniless, joins the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. There he meets the freaks, grifters, and misfits that populate this world. He introduces us to Marlena, beautiful star of the equestrian act; to August, her charismatic but twisted husband (and the circus s animal trainer); and to Rosie, the seemingly untrainable elephant Jacob cares for. Beautifully written, with a luminous sense of time and place, Water for Elephants tells of love in a world in which love s a luxury few can afford.
There’s something so magical about the circus. The elephants, the costumes, the tents … it’s just such an escape! So when I heard everyone talking about Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants, I knew I had to read it.
Despite my enjoyment rating, this was a decent story. Really, it was two stories in one. We get the 90-something Jacob reminiscing about his time in the circus, which was almost romanticizing the circus and his experiences, and then we have the young Jacob who worked at the circus, who only seems to have eyes for Marlena. My favourite story had to be from the older Jacob’s point of view. I loved hearing about his longing for the circus, which was probably brought on by his sadness for his present day situation. I did like the younger Jacob, but I wasn’t a fan of his romantic interest — Marlena just didn’t do it for me.
Sara Gruen really is a great writer. I loved how the story flowed and her way of writing. The thing that got to me, though, was that the story just didn’t hook me how I wanted it to. I didn’t find myself longing to read/listen to it, but felt like I was forcing myself to after a while. I think this was because I didn’t expect the story to be what it was — maybe it was the romance, or the romantic interest itself, but something just didn’t do it for me.
The characterization was okay. There was the odd character I liked, but some of them just didn’t cut it for me (the main characters, sadly). Though I think my favourite character had to be Rosie, the elephant, who seemed to have a personality all her own!
The narration was wonderful. Both narrators did a great job, the older narrator being my favourite — he really captured the voice of the older Jacob! The pacing was great and I loved the hints of music that were peppered throughout. It was kind of a sorrowful music that joined the younger and older Jacobs together.
I think, when it comes down to it, I expected too much from this story. Everyone raved about it and I had very, very high expectations. This isn’t to say I won’t read anything by Sara Gruen again. I do think that she’s a wonderful Canadian talent and hope to read more by her in the future.