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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 (16663 )
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4.4 (8857 )
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Story
4.5 (8779 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Janet Plano, TX, United States 08-31-10
    Janet Plano, TX, United States 08-31-10 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    1
    Overall
    "Excellent!"

    This is a story I enjoyed very much and was sorry to have it end. It is well written and well narrated. It is a must listen to, it captures the attention and keeps you wanting for more. I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    darla Smith 08-23-10
    darla Smith 08-23-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
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    REVIEWS
    53
    2
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    Overall
    "Beautiful"

    Loved this book. Written and narrated so well that you can smell the characters. A great job!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Crystal City, Manitoba, Canada 08-21-10
    Heather Crystal City, Manitoba, Canada 08-21-10 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Water for Elephants"

    This book is now on my list of favourites in my lifetime. It caught me right from the start and intrigued me until the end of the book. The review of Jacob’s memories of his past life in the depression mixed with his review of life now in a retirement home was both enlightening and humorous. I work in a long term care facility and found hearing the story from Jacob’s perspective was humbling and sent me through a whole raft of emotions. This story is well written, and the narrators did a fantastic job of bringing the story to life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Romero Rosemead, CA United States 08-20-10
    Catherine Romero Rosemead, CA United States 08-20-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    15
    5
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    "Wondrously satisfying"

    This is one of the best books I have read since "Soldier in the Great War." I realize now that it has a similar structure for a very compact span of time but I enjoyed it immensely. Very evocative writing. I thought the older voice actor would get on my nerves but the final chapter really gave the character such bravery as a free moving man.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann Orefield, PA, United States 08-19-10
    Ann Orefield, PA, United States 08-19-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    5
    5
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    0
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    "A good "read""

    Generally a very good book. It certainly kept my attention as I always like fiction based on stories that are based on history. The history here is the real life in a circus. Although well read for both narrators, the older version of the protagonist was a little harder to listen to and that part of the story dragged a bit. Without blowing the ending, I will say I let the book start over again to listen to the first chapter because I had assumed things that I needed to clarify. I always like that kind of twist. Definitely worth reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Andrews Hamilton, Ontario Canada 08-17-10
    Amy Andrews Hamilton, Ontario Canada 08-17-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    128
    11
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    "Insightful"

    I loved this book. It offered an insightful view into the world of an elderly man, struggling with issues of mortality, memory, love, guilt, joy, loss and regret. Gruen masterfully portrays the plight of many very old people and the ways that they report living more vividly in the past than in the present. Both narrators were very skilled and brought the characters to life in a way I've seldom experienced in audio format. A memorable story and worthwhile download!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gail Ridley San Deigo, CA USA 08-16-10
    Gail Ridley San Deigo, CA USA 08-16-10 Member Since 2015

    G.Ridley

    HELPFUL VOTES
    263
    ratings
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    264
    123
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    46
    3
    Overall
    "Good Listen"

    The story wasn't all sweet as some reviews have written, it had some violence that made the story more believable about the circus life and the people who worked them. The narration was superb as though you were transported into the scene as it was taking place. I think it was worth the time and credit and hope you enjoy it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G Reinhardt 08-14-10
    G Reinhardt 08-14-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    193
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    821
    92
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    18
    1
    Overall
    "Great Story & Great Characters"

    Several of my friends recommended this book to me over the past several years. I finally purchased it when it was on sale and it was fantastic. I loved the story, the setting and the point of view of both the older and younger hero. I enjoyed every minute and would highly recommend it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna Queensland, Australia 08-04-10
    Donna Queensland, Australia 08-04-10 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    66
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    "Just Wonderful"

    Yet another book I never normally would have even noticed, let alone read, but I bought it when it was on sale, and I'm so glad I did. The narration by both men is fabulous, especially Mr Jones (it feels like he could read a shopping list, and it would still feel like you were learning something amazing), and the story itself is great. It's harsh in places, beautiful in others, and I was terribly disappointed when the story finished. I could stay in that world for a looooong time :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda mentone, CA, United States 08-03-10
    Amanda mentone, CA, United States 08-03-10 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    4
    Overall
    "Don't"

    I could not finish this book because of the constant cursing and the unnecessary description of the main characters first sexual encounter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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