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Water for Elephants Audiobook

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

4.4 (16120 )
5 star
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4.4 (8372 )
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Story
4.5 (8289 )
5 star
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4 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    12-09-07
    12-09-07 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    1
    Overall
    "Must Read"

    This is an extaordinary story during a difficult time in our past. Brilliant in its writing and expertly read. Don't miss this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy 12-08-07
    Cindy 12-08-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    191
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Stellar"

    This book was a true gem. It enthralled me from the first page. I was sorry to see it end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenda 12-07-07
    Brenda 12-07-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    305
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Water For Elephants"

    The best audio book yet. The story was great and having two
    different readers of different ages was genius! I will be listening to
    this book many times. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rita R. Blais Thompson, CT 12-03-07
    Rita R. Blais Thompson, CT 12-03-07 Listener Since 2007

    Loyal Traveling Listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    4
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "OUTSTANDING!!!"

    This is the greatest book I've read in a long time. The way it's read is great. I've always loved circuses but this book gave a different view of things as seen from a circus workers' eye. I recomend this book to anyone who loves a real good read. Loved it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lia 12-03-07
    Lia 12-03-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    244
    3
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    4
    Overall
    "Read!"

    Cute little story with a wonderful ending!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry Soquel, CA, USA 12-01-07
    Larry Soquel, CA, USA 12-01-07 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    127
    6
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Mixed quality, pays off"

    This book is read by two readers representing two stages of life of the main character. The sections that take place at age 93 are fantastic -- well written, heartfelt, engrossing, and real. The other sections are incredibly flat, one dimensional, and a chore to get through. I rolled my eyes often. It is almost as if there were two authors. Were there? Fortunately, it pays off emotionally at the end of the story quite well. A mediocre book with a wonderful ending provides a worthwhile experience. Better than a great book with an unsatisfying ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Lucas South San Francisco, CA, USA 12-01-07
    Doug Lucas South San Francisco, CA, USA 12-01-07 Member Since 2008

    Vencie Lover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    193
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Hurry, Hurry, Hurry! Download it now!"

    At the begining of the year Water for Elephants came to my attention when it received some awards so I added it to my wishlist. That was a mistake! Do yourself a favor, download and listen to this book now. Don't let it sit in your wish list for months like I did.
    I have over 200 books in my Audible Library and this book is one of my top five favorites.
    Here is a book that is beautifully conceived, wonderfully written and artfully read. This story struck an emotional chord that resonates in my heart, mind and soul.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cathy 11-23-07
    Cathy 11-23-07 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    267
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    878
    57
    FOLLOWERS
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    16
    7
    Overall
    "A Seldom-Won Five Stars"

    This superbly crafted tale is a glorious display if readers appropriate sharing a story. Whether the story encouraged a five stars rating from me (a pretty darn unusual rating for me to bestow) or the whether great readers made the grade is interesting to ponder. Probably both, but maybe the readers created the mental images which still reverberate in the back of my mind days after finishing the book. The narrator in the story is an elderly man, reliving the most riveting experience of his life. Perhaps he didn’t realize it while he lived it, but now, mind sharp and body aged, he knows that summer was the exclamation point in his life. The conclusion of the book confirms the narrator’s suspicion of the importance of his experiences. If you’re looking for a good tale to keep your mind engaged and on “the edge of the seat” you’ll be happy with this choice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kourosh Laguna Niguel, CA, United States 11-21-07
    Kourosh Laguna Niguel, CA, United States 11-21-07 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    257
    7
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    "Engrossing!"

    This work is beautifully written and more importantly, it was mesmerizing to listen to. If you enjoyed "Shadow of the Wind" you will love this book. I highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jerry bakersfield, CA, USA 11-21-07
    Jerry bakersfield, CA, USA 11-21-07 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
    ratings
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    101
    12
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    "something new"

    I loved this book because it was something different, not the same old rehashed idea. If your looking for a great story and a new topic, than this is a great read. Can't wait for more from this author

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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