We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Water for Elephants Audiobook

Water for Elephants

Regular Price:$24.46
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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 (17248 )
5 star
 (9965)
4 star
 (4867)
3 star
 (1645)
2 star
 (451)
1 star
 (320)
Overall
4.4 (9393 )
5 star
 (5594)
4 star
 (2426)
3 star
 (956)
2 star
 (260)
1 star
 (157)
Story
4.6 (9314 )
5 star
 (6328)
4 star
 (2173)
3 star
 (573)
2 star
 (130)
1 star
 (110)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Amazon Customer Cranberry Twp., Pa, United States 11-10-08
    Amazon Customer Cranberry Twp., Pa, United States 11-10-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    120
    28
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    21
    Overall
    "One of the Best!"

    This is one of the best Audio Books I have listened to in a LONG time. The story is great and the readers are even better. A bad reader can really wreck a story - but a good reader - adds depth and understanding to the work.
    I was hoping the book would never end!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 11-01-08 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Astonishing"

    This was a view of the circus world that I had no idea existed, and frankly wasn't interested in. Thanks to my book club for picking one of the best books I've read. The brash, brutal existence of circus workers was fascinating. The different perspectives of the young and old Jacob were very rich. This narration was so engaging I could not put it down. Even if you don't like the circus, this audio book is a treasure.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jaymie Winamac, IN, USA 10-02-08
    Jaymie Winamac, IN, USA 10-02-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    51
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    "I loved this book!"

    This book was definetly a great listen. Both readers were just enjoyable. The story line is so engaging and really pulls you in. I was actually sad when it was over.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elyse Oxford, MA United States 09-24-08
    Elyse Oxford, MA United States 09-24-08 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    59
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    "An Enjoyable Listen"

    The use of both young and old readers really did this story justice. It's a great story with very likeable characters. I would recommend this one to anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam florence, SC, USA 09-23-08
    Pam florence, SC, USA 09-23-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Great"

    A wonderful listen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RELAINE 09-20-08
    RELAINE 09-20-08

    Relaine

    HELPFUL VOTES
    98
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    162
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    1
    Overall
    "water for elephants"

    One of the most enjoyable books I ever heard.
    Two voices, two points of view, and fast paced.
    A totally different experience from reading the book, which gave me a new appreciation of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Thompson Lewisburg, PA 09-13-08
    P. Thompson Lewisburg, PA 09-13-08 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Endearing......."

    This present-past contrasted story-telling style book makes it difficult to understand the story line for the first 1/4 of the book. As long as you can hang on until the story begins to gel, you will not want to turn it off until it is over. I only listen to my audio books in the car and for the last half of the book, I found myself sitting in my car in the driveway just so I could hear what was going to happen next. Great ending!!

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy Cordova, TN, USA 09-12-08
    Peggy Cordova, TN, USA 09-12-08 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    "This was a really great listen"

    I found this audio to be very entertaining. A bit slow getting started by it certainly kept me entertained while doing more mundane tasks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimfit 09-07-08
    Kimfit 09-07-08

    KC

    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Sleeper with Great Ingredients"

    This book deserves more than 5 stars. Has all the ingredients to make it interesting and entertaining: good voices in narration, history, interesting characters, animals, romance, a couple of mean villians, and several unlikely heros. There are some unexpected surprises too.
    All coming from a sleeper of a book and author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Sarasota, FL, United States 09-04-08
    Paula Sarasota, FL, United States 09-04-08 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    623
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Such a wonderful Story!"

    One of the best stories I have read (or heard) in a long time. I couldn't wait to listen each day but didn't want it to end.

    0 of 0 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 Mills
    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

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.