Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants

Headed to Broadway!
• Over 10 million copies sold worldwide
• A New York Times best seller for over four years
• #1 best seller on New York Times, Boston Globe, Denver Post, L.A. Times, Publishers Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, and Washington Post lists
• A USA Today and Wall Street Journal best seller
• An American Book Association IndieBound best seller
• #1 IndieNext selection

“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

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety (or ninety-three, he’s not quite sure), the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie.

It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, was their only hope for survival.


“Gritty, sensual and charged with dark secrets involving love, murder and a majestic, mute heroine (Rosie the Elephant).”

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

“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.”

“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

“To replicate the salty vernacular of a Depression-era circus, Gruen, in her third novel, did extensive research in archives and in the field, and her work pays off admirably.”
—The New Yorker

“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