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Sara Gruen books in order

Sara Gruen is Canadian-born American #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction, historical fiction and literary fiction novels.

She is best known for books such as Water for Elephants (2006), Ape House (2010), At the Water's Edge (2013), Riding Lessons (2004) and Flying Changes (2005).

Gruen’s books have been translated into 43 languages, and sold more than 10 million copies across the globe.

Her book Water for Elephants (2006), which was initially rejected by her publisher at the time, was not only approved by Algonquin Books, but did so well that it was adapted into a 2011 film starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz.

Gruen currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, their three sons, and several animals.

More about Sara Gruen

Genres: Contemporary , Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Born: 1969

United States


Non Series

  • Water for Elephants (2006)
  • Ape House (2010)
  • At the Water's Edge (2013)

Annemarie Zimmer

  1. Riding Lessons (2004)
  2. Flying Changes (2005)

Detailed book overview

Non Series

Water for Elephants

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
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Hal Holbrook, Christoph Waltz, Tai, James Frain, Paul Schneider
Author: Sara Gruen
First Release: 2006
Ebook: B003I1WY2A
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Ape House

Sam, Bonzi, Lola, Mbongo, Jelani, and Makena are no ordinary apes. These bonobos, like others of their species, are capable of reason and carrying on deep relationships—but unlike most bonobos, they also know American Sign Language.

Isabel Duncan, a scientist at the Great Ape Language Lab, doesn’t understand people, but animals she gets—especially the bonobos. Isabel feels more comfortable in their world than she’s ever felt among humans...until she meets John Thigpen, a very married reporter who braves the ever-present animal rights protesters outside the lab to see what’s really going on inside.

When an explosion rocks the lab, severely injuring Isabel and “liberating” the apes, John’s human interest piece turns into the story of a lifetime, one he’ll risk his career and his marriage to follow. Then a reality TV show featuring the missing apes debuts under mysterious circumstances, and it immediately becomes the biggest—and unlikeliest—phenomenon in the history of modern media. 

Millions of fans are glued to their screens watching the apes order greasy take-out, have generous amounts of sex, and sign for Isabel to come get them. Now, to save her family of apes from this parody of human life, Isabel must connect with her own kind, including John, a green-haired vegan, and a retired porn star with her own agenda.

Author: Sara Gruen
First Release: 2010
ISBN: 978-0385523226
Publisher: Random House
At the Water's Edge

After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. 

When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind. 

The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. 

Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.

As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of life’s beauty and surprising possibilities.

Author: Sara Gruen
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-0385523240
Publisher: Random House

Annemarie Zimmer

Riding Lessons

As a world-class equestrian and Olympic contender, Annemarie Zimmer lived for the thrill of flight atop a strong, graceful animal. Then, at eighteen, a tragic accident destroyed her riding career and Harry, the beautiful horse she cherished.

Now, twenty years later, Annemarie is coming home to her dying father's New Hampshire horse farm. Jobless and abandoned, she is bringing her troubled teenage daughter to this place of pain and memory, where ghosts of an unresolved youth still haunt the fields and stables—and where hope lives in the eyes of the handsome, gentle veterinarian Annemarie loved as a girl...and in the seductive allure of a trainer with a magic touch.

But everything will change yet again with one glimpse of a white striped gelding startlingly similar to the one Annemarie lost in another lifetime. And an obsession is born that could shatter her fragile world.

Author: Sara Gruen
First Release: 2004
ISBN: 978-0061241086
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Flying Changes

There is a time to move on, a time to let go . . . and a time to fly.

Anxiety rules Annemarie Zimmer’s days—the fear that her relationship with the man she loves is growing stagnant; the fear that equestrian daughter Eva’s dreams of Olympic glory will carry her far away from her mother...and into harm’s way. For five months, Annemarie has struggled to make peace with her past. But if she cannot let go, the personal battles she has won and the heights she has achieved will have all been for naught.

It is a time of change at Maple Brook Horse Farm, when loves must be confronted head-on and fears must be saddled and broken. But it is an unanticipated tragedy that will most drastically alter the fragile world of one remarkable family—even as it flings open gates that have long confined them, enabling them all to finally ride headlong and free.

Author: Sara Gruen
First Release: 2005
ISBN: 978-0061241093
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks