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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.
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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 (14585 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Dolores Sun Lakes, AZ, United States 04-05-07
    Dolores Sun Lakes, AZ, United States 04-05-07 Member Since 2015

    Avid audible listener. Favorite writers: Stephen king, Bryce Courtenay, R. R. Martin Fav narrators: Humphrey bower, Roy Dotrice, Frank Muller, Robin Miles

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Water for Elephants"

    Loved it. Magical. Great ending. A human story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rosie H Michigan 04-04-07
    Rosie H Michigan 04-04-07 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    86
    2
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    "Outstanding read..."

    This is by far one of the best books I have ever "read" I loved the story, and the readers. It was the first book that everyone in my whole book club loved. We all agreed that the writer wrote in a style that we all identified with. I knew when I read that "the tuba's farted", that this would be a special novel. I learned so much about the circus and the depression era. I recommend this to everyone...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer British Virgin Islands 04-01-07
    Amazon Customer British Virgin Islands 04-01-07 Listener Since 2006

    Nancy Terrell

    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    43
    5
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    "Nancy Terrell"

    What a dynamite story - I loved the recall way in which it was written, starting off with the memory of age and then going through the past. This is one of those rare reads that I have listened to more than twice. I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Phenix City, AL, USA 04-01-07
    Ken Phenix City, AL, USA 04-01-07
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    "Great, Great Book"

    I enjoyed this book from beginning to end, I listened to the entire thing on an overseas flight in one sitting, that is quite a feat for me. I loved the characters and the animals were wonderfully described (Queenie made me miss my dog even more than normal), and the narration was nothing less than superb.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom 03-29-07
    Tom 03-29-07
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    "Wonderful, unusual"

    Other reviewers comment on the wonderful and unusual story. But, the narrators. There are two, one who speaks as the protagonist in his 20s (and in the 1930s) and the other in his 90s. The former is good. The latter is extraordinary as an old man in a nursing home. The writer gives a touching view of one living out his last days in a situation many of us will experience. A bit scary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra 03-26-07
    Debra 03-26-07

    Love books, all kinds, all shapes, all formats! Audiobooks have made my daily commute so much less stressful! Major fan of Audible.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    "Delightful!"

    Wonderful story. Excellent performances. A true delight to get to look forward to each commute in my car - just to get to hear the next installment of this wonderful audiobook!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Germantown, TN, USA 03-24-07
    Heather Germantown, TN, USA 03-24-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
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    "very moving"

    What a wonderful story! I enjoyed both readers, very easy to listen to on my morning walks. I couldn't wait to hit the pavement in the morning just so I could listen to the book. I was pleasantly surprised!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela San Antonio, TX, USA 03-23-07
    Pamela San Antonio, TX, USA 03-23-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best Read for 2007"

    I am amazed how much I love this book since I was hesitant to invest a lot of time on a fictional novel about circus people. Was I surprised to find this novel was packed full of suspense, drama, mystery, survival and romance. The book is so incredible, I could hardly put it down. I like a well rounded story with all the elements of suspense, drama, action, mystery, romance and believable characters, and this one has it all and lots more. Can't remember the last time I read a book that brought real tears to my eyes. Bravo to the author and the wonderful narrators!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine 03-23-07
    Catherine 03-23-07
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    12
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    "Exceptional"

    This book is fantastic

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Buzzards Bay, MA, United States 03-22-07
    Barbara Buzzards Bay, MA, United States 03-22-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Water for Elephants"

    Excellent book! Great story! Highly recommend this one!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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