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Water for Elephants Audiobook

Water for Elephants

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Two narrators weave together strands of a story spanning decades. David LeDoux portrays the lead character in his twenties and John Randolph Jones is the same character 70 years later. Both are excellent, but Jones' rough bass filled my head with the joys and pain felt by the old man, in a way that the voice I hear when I read to myself could never have done. One of the most outstanding audiobooks I've ever heard! —Beth Anderson

Publisher's Summary

An atmospheric tale of life and love in a Depression-era traveling circus.

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. Jacob introduces us to Marlena, beautiful star of the equestrian act; to August, her charismatic but twisted husband (and the circus' animal trainer); and to Rosie, a seemingly untrainable elephant.

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.

©2006 Sara Gruen; (P)2006 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award, Adult Fiction, 2007
  • Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, Unabridged, 2007

"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.” (New York Times Book Review)

"Just like a circus, the magic of the story and the writing convince you to suspend your disbelief." (Booklist)

"Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes, and freaks who populate her book." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (17114 )
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4.4 (9272 )
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4.6 (9193 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Katha 04-07-10
    Katha 04-07-10

    My audiologist says audio books are best next to reading outloud for preventing dementia/alzheimers! Creates neural pathways. See, hear, ima

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    5
    Overall
    "An affair for the heart"

    What a wonderful perspective this story is told from! Poor little, old, forgotten man - all his loving memories retold and relived. I especially loved the ending. True love and empathy embodied!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rio 04-06-10
    Rio 04-06-10 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hauntingly beautiful"

    Water for Elephants is a haunting novel, filled with so much life. Though the characters are old, the story is fresh and new. I loved this book and when it ended, I was genuinely sad. I wanted the story to go and on.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sher from Provo Utah 03-20-10
    Sher from Provo Utah 03-20-10 Member Since 2015

    Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.

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    "A sweet and tender story"

    I loved this book. I loved both of the narrators, but the old man was my favorite. He reminded me of my dad so much! As I sit here trying to decide what to write, I get a big lump in my throat thinking about these two incredible love stories, love between the man and his wife, and between the man and the circus.

    This book offers so many lesson for life if we readers are smart enough to learn them. Each character is trying to tell us something.

    When I read the ending, I wanted to jump up and down and shout, "Yes, yes yes!!!" That is the way it should end!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Smileline 03-19-10
    Smileline 03-19-10 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What a great story!"

    This book was so refreshing. What a storyteller Ms. Gruen is! As soon as I finished the book I had to listen to it over again.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Angwin, CA, United States 03-11-10
    Heather Angwin, CA, United States 03-11-10 Member Since 2009
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    "The seedy underbelly."

    Think of this book as a circus apocalypse story. Basically it covers a 3-month period in which the main character, an ivy-league vet student, accidentally joins the circus. What is revealed is a totally surreal sinister world. However the main character's life completely changes, and not necessarily for the worse. It's not a totally amazing book but definitely worth listening to. The two readers did an excellent job and the ending continues your suspension of belief.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel BerlinGermany 02-24-10
    Daniel BerlinGermany 02-24-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "Nice"

    The story is great, and very well narrated. Loved the interplay between the old and young characterx in the story. The occasional music was unnecessary though, a bit irritating at times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KC 01-28-10
    KC 01-28-10 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    3
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    "Solid story bolstered by excellent narration"

    This is definitely one of the cases where the audiobook format greatly helped in engaging the reader into the story.

    I tried reading the paperback once. Put it down after the first chapter. Didn't really grab me that time.

    I gave the story another chance after it was recommended by one of the podcasts I listen to. I figured that since I was going to get a free audiobook via the podcast promotion, it wouldn't hurt to try their recommendation. Was not disappointed at all.

    Obviously I managed to get past the first chapter this time. Both narrators did an excellent job in portraying the old and young versions of the protagonist and helped contrast and distinguish their differences in character. Without it, I would have missed out on a great adventure set in Prohibition America involving the enigmatic institution that is the Circus.

    If I were to gripe, it would just be that the female characters were limited in their emotional range/depth because the narrators are male. Otherwise it is an excellent audiobook production.

    Recommended for people who like a good love story/adventure... and of course, elephants. ;)

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katy PARKER, CO, United States 01-15-10
    Katy PARKER, CO, United States 01-15-10 Member Since 2013
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    46
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    "Absolutely wonderful"

    Previous reviewers have said it all; the writing, the narration,the originality...best of the best!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward E McKenna 01-07-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Throughly Enjoyable Listen"

    I absolutely recommend this book.
    The story, the narrative, the grand sweep of a long bygone era (not so unlike ours today) left me wanting for more. At the end, I laughed, and I cried, and started a second "listen".
    My only peeve, was that their should have been a third narrator for the female characters of the story (but then that might have brought the narration up towards the "Radio Staging" level of audio-drama's.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorraine Kirkwood, MO, USA 01-03-10
    Lorraine Kirkwood, MO, USA 01-03-10
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    3
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    "Excellent listen"

    This great story took us from St Louis to Snowmass Colorado. Excellent narration and what a great story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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