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Water for Elephants | [Sara Gruen]

Water for Elephants

Why we think it’s a great listen: Some books are meant to be read; others are meant to be heard – Water for Elephants falls into the second group, and is one of the best examples we have of how a powerful performance enhances a great story. 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.
Regular Price:$24.46
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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

4.3 (14401 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Dawn 06-19-07
    Dawn 06-19-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    240
    13
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    1
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    Overall
    "Excellent, moving"

    This is well worth the time. One of the best books I have ever heard on Audible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N Marlene Fleming 06-16-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    68
    5
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    0
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    Overall
    "Amazing and insightful book!"

    Wonderful storytelling with a unique view of a man at 23 and 90=something. I had to listen to it twice because I was so sorry when it ended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audrey Hustisford, WI, USA 06-16-07
    Audrey Hustisford, WI, USA 06-16-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    12
    7
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    0
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    Overall
    "Very Good Listen"

    I thought this book was excellent. I couldn't stop listening. The readers were excellent as well. I really enjoyed the old man's portrayal as an elderly Jacob. I highly recommened this book. It is a great example of 'everything happens for a reason.'

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melody Morriston, FM, USA 06-14-07
    Melody Morriston, FM, USA 06-14-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    9
    3
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    "I Want a Sequel!!!"

    I loved this book. It is out of the genre that I normally read (listen to), but it was well worth it. I would be thrilled if the author decided to write a sequel that takes up where this one ends... I so want to find out how the rest of this man's life went and to hear more antedotes from the nursing home. The author did an excellent job decribing the man's feelings while in the nursing home!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Seattle, WA, USA 06-13-07
    Mark Seattle, WA, USA 06-13-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    2
    Overall
    "Download now"

    One of the best books I've listened to in a long while. I downloaded this on the recommendation of a friend who said "not sure why I enjoyed the book - can't really put my finger on it - but it was great". After listening to the audiobook, I'm in complete agreement. Great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara The Woodlands, TX, USA 06-12-07
    Barbara The Woodlands, TX, USA 06-12-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    202
    6
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    0
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    "sara Gruen"

    One of the best audio books I have listened to this year. Imaginative, creative and entertaining. A great story with great characters. I will be reading her other books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    scott j carle Chesterfield, Virginia United States 06-10-07
    scott j carle Chesterfield, Virginia United States 06-10-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
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    14
    9
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    4
    Overall
    "Definitely worth a 'credit'..."

    This was not the typical book for me, but I like to be pleasantly surprised when going off my usual material and authors. I felt that was the case with this book. It was well read and kept my interest from start to finish. Not quite as gripping for me as The Time Traveler's Wife, but thoroughly enjoyable. I think you'll be pleased. I'm giving it five stars, as I am often looking for books that score over 4 stars average as a pretty good indicator of a worthwhile read / listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura angels camp, CA, USA 06-08-07
    Laura angels camp, CA, USA 06-08-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    1
    Overall
    "Beautiful story"

    Captivating from the beginning. I loved the voice charactariztion of the narrator. This story moves easily along past and present timelines with unforgettable characters that stayed with me long after I stopped listening. Circus life and the landscape are so richly illlustrated I thought I could taste the food and smell the horses.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Morgan Austin, TX, United States 06-07-07
    Morgan Austin, TX, United States 06-07-07 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
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    278
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    "Loved this book"

    I agree with the reviewer that said it was similar to The Time Travelers Wife. Not in content, but in the impact it makes on you. I was very sorry to come to the end of the story and have to start something new. It was very well written and very well read. I really like the young man he was but I LOVE the old man he became.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Avril Somerset WestSouth Africa 06-07-07
    Avril Somerset WestSouth Africa 06-07-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "WATER FOR ELEPHANTS"

    I found this thoroughly enjoyable because it is an unusual theme, well acted and presented and constantly riveting. The story is set in a travelling circus during the years of the great depression, and the circus life is brilliantly re-created so that one could imagine how it must have been. I recommend this book to everyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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