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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 (16107 )
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4.4 (8360 )
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Story
4.5 (8277 )
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Performance
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  •  
    mary j aboughadareh 08-16-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    202
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    363
    93
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    12
    0
    Overall
    "Engaging"

    I was instantly engaged in the characters and the story. I could smell the sawdust and popcorn. It introduced me to a new lifestyle. The ending was a little "off", but not so much to spoil the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Owen Tabor 08-11-07
    Owen Tabor 08-11-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    96
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "great story and reader(s)"

    Very captivating tale and well-read by the narrators. One of my favorite audio books

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie East Millstone, NJ, United States 08-11-07
    Laurie East Millstone, NJ, United States 08-11-07 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    40
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    20
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    0
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    Overall
    "Suprisingly captivating"

    I must admit that I was skeptical about this book, not thinking I would enjoy a story about a circus. The reviews here were so good that I went ahead and boy, was I glad that I did! The characterization in this novel is just superb; Gruen paints complex portraits of so many people. I particularly enjoyed how Jacob's roommate Walter came to life. The (dual) narration was one of the best I've heard in my many Audible listens. Just a wonderful book!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Apalachin, NY, USA 08-09-07
    Linda Apalachin, NY, USA 08-09-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    24
    2
    Overall
    "Loved it!"

    What a captivatingly sweet story and great narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith 07-31-07
    Judith 07-31-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    2
    Overall
    "Mesmerizing"

    Engossing and unforgettable chartacters and plot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Amsterdam, NY, USA 07-29-07
    Jean Amsterdam, NY, USA 07-29-07 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    3
    Overall
    "best I've listened to in a long time"

    The story is relatively simple, but the characters are engrossing. I loved the mix of historical fact with fiction. Her handling of the switch between the 93 yr old Jacob and the 23 year old Jacob was superb! It is truly a story that will stay with me for a very long time. The narrator for the 93 yr old Jacob was especially endearing. This book was so good that I actually put off finishing the last 20 minutes because I didn't want to say "good-bye" to Jacob, Marlena and Rosie!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan Lenexa, Kansas 07-29-07
    Joan Lenexa, Kansas 07-29-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    3
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Water for Elephants"

    This book was by far one of the best I have ever listened to. Thank you for hours of listening entertainment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carla St Albert, AB, Canada 07-27-07
    Carla St Albert, AB, Canada 07-27-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Insightful & unique"

    I loved this book. Insights into the treatment of our wise elders, the life on a circus during the depression... Like nothing I have listened to before. I'll recommend it again and again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mario JohannesburgSouth Africa 07-25-07
    Mario JohannesburgSouth Africa 07-25-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    61
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    3
    Overall
    "Water for the soul"

    What a moving story of love and and the desire to live. Fantastic narration made you feel that you experienced the lives of these wonderful characters.

    This book ranks up there with Life of Pi and The time travellers wife.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Edina, MN, USA 07-23-07
    Barbara Edina, MN, USA 07-23-07 Member Since 2007
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    79
    1
    Overall
    "Very satisfied"

    this was a great story as well as a great performance. I highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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