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Water for Elephants Audiobook
Water for Elephants
Written by: 
Sara Gruen
Narrated by: 
David LeDoux, John Randolph Jones
 >   > 
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 (17001 )
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4.4 (9168 )
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Story
4.5 (9090 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Kathleen 08-23-09
    Kathleen 08-23-09 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Outstanding Narration Makes the Story"

    The story, presented from the perspectives of the 93-year old and 23-year-old hero, is lively, charming, interesting, and sensitive. The narration in the two voices is the best I have heard in dozens, and dozens of books this summer. The voice of the 93-year-old Jacob pulls you into the world of the circus, past and present, and into his life in the nursing home with deep feeling and pathos.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Somerset, NJ, USA 08-15-09
    Patricia Somerset, NJ, USA 08-15-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    34
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Pleasantly Surprised."

    Don't let the narrator turn you off in the beginning. I started listening and thought that I would hate having to listen to an old man for the duration of the book but my opinion changed very quickly and found those portions of the book endearing in no time. It was refreshing to get to the end of the book and be surprised. Most books these days are predictable but this one had a few turns in it that I didn't see coming. A good read, very entertaining.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcia Lyndhurst, OH, USA 08-13-09
    Marcia Lyndhurst, OH, USA 08-13-09
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    Overall
    "Wonderful listen"

    I was not sure about listening to someone reading to me least of all a story. This was wonderful. Would recommend it to anyone who wants a good story read in a way that brings the story to life!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvonne CorkIreland 08-02-09
    Yvonne CorkIreland 08-02-09
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
    Overall
    "Lovely, lovely story!"

    Loved it and loved the narrators. Best listen in a long time!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Owen-thomas 07-25-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    44
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "WOW"

    Been a member of Audible for years and this is by far one of the best. Couldn't stop listening...Fanastic storytelling and pure enjoyment

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MsTrebek Washington, DC 07-21-09
    MsTrebek Washington, DC 07-21-09 Listener Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    117
    11
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    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Total Enjoyment!"

    What a nice surprise! This is storytelling at its best - past and present - thanks to the excellent narrators. One of the best this summer!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Belinda Somewhere, CA 07-16-09
    Belinda Somewhere, CA 07-16-09 Member Since 2016

    Marble Book

    HELPFUL VOTES
    89
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    551
    52
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    "Best"

    Cannot stop listening. One of the best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Levitan Incline Village, NV United States 07-05-09
    C. Levitan Incline Village, NV United States 07-05-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    6
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    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Overall
    "Beautiful story, moving narration"

    This is two stories, a challenged man in his 20's, and the same man challenged at 90 (or 93, what year is this?), each leading with humor and fantastic suspence to an inevitable disaster, or, well, jeeze, just listen to the story! You'll respect elephants so much more afterwards.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Payton 06-25-09
    Mark Payton 06-25-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    10
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Long, But Really Really Good!"

    The book took some time to get going. The character development is excellent, the story is compelling, and I'm really happy to have taken the time to listen. A wonderful story definitely worth the credits.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth 06-25-09
    Elizabeth 06-25-09 Member Since 2015

    Listen to about four audio books a months. Never without one.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1088
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    93
    68
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    187
    8
    Overall
    "Great Listen!"

    I hesitated to purchase this book because of all the hype. I did not read reviews prior to listening to it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I thought having two narrators really enhanced the book. Both narrators did an excellent job. It was fun to read about something I know nothing about. It also reinforced to me how fast time flies by and the young will soon become the old.
    One star short of five because little was said about his children and what motivated them to not take him in. Still, a very enjoyable book!

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Suzannah
    Nottingham, United Kingdom
    8/16/11
    Overall
    "Water for Elephants"

    Both strangely exotic and nostalgically familiar, this tale of tenderness found in the harsh reality of circus life and enduring love stolen from cruelty is captivating and entrancing. Told through the eyes and voices of an old timer and his younger self, it flips from past to present and back again with ease and manages to bring two stories together with equal strength and interest. A beautiful story that is beautifully read by the narrators.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Fran
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    8/30/11
    Overall
    "wonderful!"

    I listened to this for a second time when I had exhausted my new supply while away.
    And it was just as enthralling as the first listen.

    Brilliantly written and wonderfully read by the two readers.
    I can't recommend it highly enough - one of the best audibles I've listened to.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Kelly
    7/5/11
    Overall
    "A true love story"

    A true love story written to thrive in the 21st Centry, from the charactors to the plot line its well written and addictive.........

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Swindon, United Kingdom
    11/15/11
    Overall
    "The film does not even get close."

    I could not put this book down.
    I remember exactly where I was when things happened in this book.
    The character of the old man is explored to the fullest extend, this character made the story, and was completely overlooked in the film version.
    Perfect for a holiday, or summer commutes, as I did.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • w
    east horsley, United Kingdom
    11/7/11
    Overall
    "loved it"

    Unusual subject and not one I would normally choose. It made me laugh and cry. Brilliant. Do read it

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Claire
    Yate, United Kingdom
    10/30/11
    Overall
    "Absorbing"

    I wasn't sure if I was going to like this audiobook when I started listening to it as I found the hopping between the current and past a little hard going and the older person's voice difficult to understand at times. But, I'm glad I perservered with it. The story is very original and draws you in. Worth a listen

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • joanna
    Bingham, United Kingdom
    10/2/11
    Overall
    "Wonderfully engaging Big Top Book"

    This book tells the story of a young man thrown into the life of a circus worker after his parents are killed. The wonderful transition between times takes the listening into two very different but equally compelling settings. Brilliant !!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • holly bird
    6/30/11
    Overall
    "Great Original Story"

    Great to read an original book for a change. I knew nothing about the american circus trains, and now I do! Takes place during the American Depression. The love story is a bit lame but otherwise a terrific listen.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Annie
    Derby
    10/22/10
    Overall
    "I Loved it!"

    A really enjoyable listen, on a par with 'The Help'. This has been one of those books I couldn't wait to get back to; it was really well structured and well read, I was thoroughly entertained the whole way through. I highly recommend this audiobook.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Madgey
    7/18/11
    Overall
    "Enjoyed every single second …."

    It left me wanting more…. I did not want the story to end. I laughed and cried. This is a tale simply told, an account that was both funny & sad, on times illustrating the cruelty inherent in some human beings and the goodness of others. The narration was outstanding, it brought the wonderful characters to life and I could really see them through ‘Jacobs’ eyes. It also made me think about the value we place on our elderly population. Can’t wait to watch the film, hope it lives up to the book.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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