Sara Gruen

Easton Press Sara Gruen books

Water For Elephants - Signed Limited Edition - 2008


Author Sara Gruen

Sara Gruen, born on August 10, 1969, is a Canadian-born American author known for her bestselling novel Water for Elephants. Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Gruen moved to the United States and pursued a degree in English literature from the University of Ottawa. Her love for storytelling and literature became evident early in her life. Gruen's writing career began with the publication of her first novel, Riding Lessons, in 2004, which marked the start of her literary success. However, it was her third novel, Water for Elephants, published in 2006, that propelled her to international acclaim. Set against the backdrop of a traveling circus during the Great Depression, the novel weaves a captivating tale of love, loss, and the magical world of the circus. Water for Elephants became a massive bestseller, earning widespread praise for its rich storytelling and vivid historical details. The success of the novel led to its adaptation into a feature film in 2011, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. The film further solidified Gruen's reputation as a skilled storyteller, reaching an even broader audience.

Sara Gruen's writing often explores the intersection of history, romance, and adventure. Her subsequent works include Ape House (2010) and At the Water's Edge (2015), each demonstrating her ability to tackle diverse themes and genres. Gruen's novels are characterized by meticulous research, strong character development, and immersive storytelling.

Beyond her contributions to literature, Gruen is known for her advocacy for animal rights. Her passion for animals is evident in Water for Elephants and is also reflected in her involvement with organizations dedicated to the welfare of animals. Sara Gruen's literary achievements have earned her a dedicated readership and numerous accolades. Her ability to transport readers to different worlds and eras, combined with her commitment to storytelling and advocacy, has solidified her place as a respected and beloved author in the contemporary literary landscape.


Water For Elephants

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.

Beautifully written, Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.

Sara Gruen’s darkly beautiful tale about the characters who inhabit the less-than-greatest show on earth.

Jacob Janowski’s luck had run out orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was the Great Depression and for Jacob the circus was both his salvation and a living hell. There he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but brutal animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this group of misfits was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Water for Elephants is the story of Jacob's life with this circus. Sara Gruen spares no detail in chronicling the squalid, filthy, brutish circumstances in which he finds himself. The animals are mangy, underfed or fed rotten food, and abused. Jacob, once it becomes known that he has veterinary skills, is put in charge of the "menagerie" and all its ills. Uncle Al, the circus impresario, is a self-serving, venal creep who slaps people around because he can. August, the animal trainer, is a certified paranoid schizophrenic whose occasional flights into madness and brutality often have Jacob as their object. Jacob is the only person in the book who has a handle on a moral compass and as his reward he spends most of the novel beaten, broken, concussed, bleeding, swollen and hungover. He is the self-appointed Protector of the Downtrodden, and... he falls in love with Marlena, crazy August's wife. Not his best idea.

The most interesting aspect of the book is all the circus lore that Gruen has so carefully researched. She has all the right vocabulary: grifters, roustabouts, workers, cooch tent, rubes, First of May, what the band plays when there's trouble, Jamaican ginger paralysis, life on a circus train, set up and take down, being run out of town by the "revenooers" or the cops, and losing all your hooch. There is one glorious passage about Marlena and Rosie, the bull elephant, that truly evokes the magic a circus can create. It is easy to see Marlena's and Rosie's pink sequins under the Big Top and to imagine their perfect choreography as they perform unbelievable stunts. The crowd loves it--and so will the reader.

Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Award for Most Popular Book.

An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of Riding Lessons.

“the must-read author of summer” - Ottawa Citizen

"The ending is absolutely ludicrous and really quite lovely." - Valerie Ryan

A national bestseller in Canada and a New York Times bestseller in the United States, this is a book destined to become a beloved fiction classic.


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