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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 (17266 )
5 star
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4.4 (9409 )
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Story
4.6 (9330 )
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Performance
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  •  
    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 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    44
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    "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
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    "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
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    "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
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    9
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    "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
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    29
    10
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    "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
    1157
    ratings
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    98
    73
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    201
    10
    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
  •  
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 06-09-09
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 06-09-09 Member Since 2016

    A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    219
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    10
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    Overall
    "Great listen"

    This is a thoroughly enjoyable listen due to the excellent narrator and well told story. The two narrators enhance the story and help bring the stories to life. While the story may come across as somewhat cliche at times, it is worthy of the listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carole toledo, OH, USA 05-21-09
    Carole toledo, OH, USA 05-21-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    9
    5
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    1
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    Overall
    "Great Listen - entertaining and well done"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The use of two narrators was done very well. The love story line was somewhat predictable (thus the 4 stars and not 5), but the insight into circus life in the 30's was great. And the ending fit well, even though I didn't expect it. The book had been recommended to me long ago and they were right; it was very good. I have recommended it all of my friends!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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