by Sara Gruen
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Text Difficulty:9 - 12
About the Author-
SARA GRUEN is the best selling author of Riding Lessons. She is an animal lover who lives with her husband, three children, five cats, two goats, a dog, and a horse in an environmentalist community north of Chicago. She did extensive research on traveling circuses of the 1930s for this story.
- This marvelously exciting and satisfying book has been given the engaging audio production it deserves, with a fine reading of young Jacob Jankowski by David LeDoux, in a cracking voice full of youthful passion and high drama, and John Randolph Jones doing the crusty, rusted voice of Jacob at 90, furious about being warehoused in a nursing home while inside he is still the young man who joined the circus, fell in love with the girl who did the elephant act, and survived the catastrophe that finally befell the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth as the Great Depression tightened its grip on everything. LeDoux gets to do the high-voltage scenes, and there are many, but Jones and Rosie the elephant steal your heart. B.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine
March 6, 2006
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 clichéd prose and the predictability of the story's ending, Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book.
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OverDrive MP3 AudiobookBurn to CD:PermittedTransfer to device:PermittedTransfer to Apple® device:PermittedPublic performance:Not permittedFile-sharing:Not permittedPeer-to-peer usage:Not permittedAll copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.
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