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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 (16558 )
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Overall
4.4 (8758 )
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Story
4.5 (8680 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Jeanne 02-20-08
    Jeanne 02-20-08 Listener Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Loved it!"

    I loved this book from beginning to end. Great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glenys EAST MALVERNAustralia 02-17-08
    Glenys EAST MALVERNAustralia 02-17-08
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    2
    Overall
    "glenniw"

    Starts off a little slow, but soon becomes an interesting look at a man when he is young and when he is 90 (or 93 he's not sure) reminiscing on his youth when he worked for "the greatest show on earth" triggered by an upcoming treat of a circus visit organised by the aged care home he lives in.
    The use of two different people make the age difference believable..I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen Austin Texas 02-15-08
    Helen Austin Texas 02-15-08 Member Since 2007

    Reading Raven

    HELPFUL VOTES
    291
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    388
    72
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    10
    0
    Overall
    "WOW! A Gift!"

    This book has a dark and realistic tempo of life in the circus during the depression. I compliment the research for this book creating a sound and imaginative storyline. A story of brutality as well as friendship. Great character development leaving you wanting more but not lost without development. A wonderful story for animal lovers and another unique love story for couples against the odds. Narration was recorded like they were talking to you, I appreciated that most. It felt very evocative and real. On an entirely different note it allows you to be in the shoes of a 90 something year old man and feel how we treat our mature population in a unique, non-judgemental way. You will be left pondering in a very good way. Without giving away the ending all I can say is, I clapped. Bravo!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet CASEY, IL, United States 02-08-08
    Janet CASEY, IL, United States 02-08-08 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    33
    10
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "SOBERING"

    THIS BOOK BRINGS TO REALITY THE THINKING OF THE AGING IN A VERY VIVID WAY. AS AN RN IT DID OPEN MY EYES TO THE AGED PATIENTS I HAVE DEALT WITH. I HOPE I WILL BE MORE UNDERSTANDING TO THEIR NEEDS SINCE READING THIS BOOK. I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT THE BAD LANGUAGE.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pearl Anna McElfish 01-31-08 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    56
    3
    Overall
    "Excellent!!!!!!!!"

    This book was wonderful

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darla Miami, FL, USA 01-28-08
    Darla Miami, FL, USA 01-28-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "I never write reviews"

    However, Ms. Gruen's writing was so visual and descriptive I was there as the story was told. Her change of the main character telling his story from the age of 23 to 90 (or 93) was seamless. I was mesmerized. I hope you will be as well.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Georganne Glocester, RI, USA 01-28-08
    Georganne Glocester, RI, USA 01-28-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    77
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "a bit depressing"

    Great narration. Good ending. It took almost all of part one to get me interested though. I don't like hearing about animal cruelty and human cruelty both of which are prevalent in this book. A depressing look at aging as well. It just wasn't in my top 25.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rosalie Wavell Heights, QLD, Australia 01-26-08
    Rosalie Wavell Heights, QLD, Australia 01-26-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "Delightful"

    Great Narration! This novel was such a pleasure & visual candy! Enjoyed it to the very end & was dissapointed when it finished.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Soddy Daisy, United States Minor Outlying Islands 01-22-08
    Karen Soddy Daisy, United States Minor Outlying Islands 01-22-08 Member Since 2007

    I am an educated Southerner, plowing through books at the speed of light. I love good stories, good coffee, and good conversation.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    133
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    2
    Overall
    "Love it!"

    This book is very much worth listening to. I think what really makes this book -- besides the compelling, well-paced storyline and beautiful love story -- is the narration. It is so believable and in the moment. I could not stop listening!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joanne Minnie 01-20-08 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    5
    FOLLOWERS
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    0
    0
    Overall
    "very good story"

    This was such a very good story; heartwarming, tragic, heroic, entertaining. Life on a circus from behind the scenes in a depression era America. Something happening in every chapter and a great ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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