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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 (18120 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amy Andrews Hamilton, Ontario Canada 08-17-10
    Amy Andrews Hamilton, Ontario Canada 08-17-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Insightful"

    I loved this book. It offered an insightful view into the world of an elderly man, struggling with issues of mortality, memory, love, guilt, joy, loss and regret. Gruen masterfully portrays the plight of many very old people and the ways that they report living more vividly in the past than in the present. Both narrators were very skilled and brought the characters to life in a way I've seldom experienced in audio format. A memorable story and worthwhile download!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gail Ridley San Deigo, CA USA 08-16-10
    Gail Ridley San Deigo, CA USA 08-16-10 Member Since 2016

    G.Ridley

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Good Listen"

    The story wasn't all sweet as some reviews have written, it had some violence that made the story more believable about the circus life and the people who worked them. The narration was superb as though you were transported into the scene as it was taking place. I think it was worth the time and credit and hope you enjoy it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G Reinhardt 08-14-10
    G Reinhardt 08-14-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    204
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    93
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    Overall
    "Great Story & Great Characters"

    Several of my friends recommended this book to me over the past several years. I finally purchased it when it was on sale and it was fantastic. I loved the story, the setting and the point of view of both the older and younger hero. I enjoyed every minute and would highly recommend it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna Queensland, Australia 08-04-10
    Donna Queensland, Australia 08-04-10 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just Wonderful"

    Yet another book I never normally would have even noticed, let alone read, but I bought it when it was on sale, and I'm so glad I did. The narration by both men is fabulous, especially Mr Jones (it feels like he could read a shopping list, and it would still feel like you were learning something amazing), and the story itself is great. It's harsh in places, beautiful in others, and I was terribly disappointed when the story finished. I could stay in that world for a looooong time :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda mentone, CA, United States 08-03-10
    Amanda mentone, CA, United States 08-03-10 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    21
    5
    Overall
    "Don't"

    I could not finish this book because of the constant cursing and the unnecessary description of the main characters first sexual encounter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony WA 08-03-10
    Anthony WA 08-03-10 Member Since 2016

    Audible has opened up a whole new world of reading that I could not make work in the traditional page turning world. I am on a mission to listen to a wide variety of adventures, mysteries, thrillers, classics, etc. Thank you Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great listen!"

    I was quite surprised by this book. I have looked at it for a long time but was hesitant to buy it because it sounded a little dull. As time has passed I continued to hear and read excellent reviews and I was swayed to give it a listen. I was quickly drawn into the story and found this book hard to stop listening to. The narration is nothing short of spectacular. Both Mr. LeDoux and Jones make the characters come to life with emotion you can nearly feel. The only criticism I have is in regards to the way the author ends the book. I am not going to provide details, but I found the ending a little too unrealistic. Well worth the listen over all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawanna Price 08-01-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyed very Much!!"

    I have had this book in my wish list for a long time but just recently purchased it. Well worth the credit. A little different then what I'm used to! Normally read stuff like Diana Gabaldon & Gena Showalter, This book starts out a little slow but gets going quickly. A very charming read. I like the Narrators, They do a great job of young & old Jacob. I love how S.G. made Old Jacob Spunky & realistic, in fact I had a clear vision of all the Characters & the time period. I definitely recommend this book & plan on seeing WFE when it comes to theaters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Fraser Watertown,WI USA 08-01-10
    Lynn Fraser Watertown,WI USA 08-01-10 Member Since 2012

    walkaway

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic"

    I bought this book due to the readers reviews. I was not, in any way disappointed. Loved the ending. I, unlike a few of your reviewers, did not see the ending coming so to speak. A lovely surprise. Will read more by the author, gladly! Second favorite book of all time!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill Franklin, CT, United States 08-01-10
    Jill Franklin, CT, United States 08-01-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Wonderful!"

    I had picked up this book in the store a few times and didn't think I would enjoy a book about a circus or circus life. I decided to pick up this audiobook on a sale day, and I am glad I did. It is so much more than a circus book, and it has stayed with me. I adored the narration of Jacob at 90 (or 93), and my heart went out to him as he described his existence at this stage of life. The description of life during the Depression was interesting and sad, and the characters were well developed.

    It is true, as another reviewer mentioned, that there is some explicit language and raunchy situations, but it is done with humor and is relevant to the story. That being said, the book is not appropriate for children, but a definite thumbs up from me!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Rock Hill, SC, United States 07-31-10
    Susan Rock Hill, SC, United States 07-31-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best!"

    I could kick myself for waiting so long to listen to this. This is one of the best audible books I've listened to. Great book! Can't wait for the movie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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