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Water for Elephants Audiobook

Water for Elephants

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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 (17118 )
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4.4 (9275 )
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4.6 (9196 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Nena GARDINER, MAINE, United States 01-12-11
    Nena GARDINER, MAINE, United States 01-12-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Water for Elephants-Loved it!"

    It was wonderful to listen on my Itouch as I made an entire quilt but I enjoyed the actors who read and I have recommended it to many of my friends. Easy way to pick up an audible book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzie El Cajon, United States Minor Outlying Islands 01-10-11
    Suzie El Cajon, United States Minor Outlying Islands 01-10-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
    Overall
    "Awful, Horrible, Filled with Animal Abuse"

    I tried my best to listen to this book. It is well written and expertly narrated, but I became so sickened at the animal abuse I had to stop listening shortly into part 2. If you love animals and hate the abuse that circus animals have always suffered, your heart will break. I wish I hadn't started listening to it... it will haunt me for quite some time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cassie DENVER, CO, United States 01-09-11
    Cassie DENVER, CO, United States 01-09-11

    PetLover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Wonderful Book!!!"

    I loved this book from start to finish. I didn't want it to end. Beautifully written! I recommended this book to everyone and will continue to do so. LOVED IT!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liviu Bucharest, Romania 01-05-11
    Liviu Bucharest, Romania 01-05-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    71
    5
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    1
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    Overall
    "Loved it, unpredictable, sad, funny, all at once"

    It's one of the best fiction books I've read, if not the best. The reading is absolutely spectacular and it's what gives this book a big part of it's appeal. Loved it from start to finish. It's a great story, with some great twists and it keeps you wanting to read one more page (minute) all through the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas W. Gleason 12-24-10

    Tom Gleason

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    152
    11
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Great characters and story"

    Gripping from start to finish. I loved the characters, and the story, while giving few surprises, is very well told and interesting. I particularly loved the author's ability to show the perspective of the main character in old age and as a youth. The scenes and insights into aging and living in an institution were particularly powerful and very well written. I loved the ending, but hated to say goodbye to the people I met in the story.. it was that good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    warwick Ames 12-04-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    104
    7
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    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Overall
    "Rare report"

    Long time audible fan, with wide ranging tastes. Have never written a review but this book was wonderful. Maybe it caught me at the right mood but it was enchanting. I simply don't want to listen to anything else for awhile but just mull over this story. Awesome narration too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Yowie Bay, Australia 11-29-10
    Lee Yowie Bay, Australia 11-29-10 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
    Overall
    "Entertaining!"

    This book is wonderful!! Narration is fabulous and very believable... The story line keeps you guessing all throughout and the ending is simply beautiful.... for all those that dreamed of running away to the circus.. this one's for you!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LINDA Harrison Township, MI, United States 11-27-10
    LINDA Harrison Township, MI, United States 11-27-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
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    3
    3
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    "Heartwarming and heartwrenching !"

    I loved this book and the narration is outstanding...you feel as if you are listening to your own grandfather tell the wondereous tales of his growing older from adolescent to old age..its captivating from beginning to end. I have told everyone I know they MUST listen to this audio book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annette Boulder, CO, United States 11-26-10
    Annette Boulder, CO, United States 11-26-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Cute and Lightweight"

    The premise of running off to join the circus during the Depression sounds intriguing. But the book didn't live up to the glowing reviews from other listeners.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    11-24-10
    11-24-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    0
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    "One of my favorites"

    I loved the two narrators, one 90 or 93 and the other 23. I had never really thought about life with the circus. This was a very entertaining and heartfelt story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Suzannah
    Nottingham, United Kingdom
    8/16/11
    Overall
    "Water for Elephants"

    Both strangely exotic and nostalgically familiar, this tale of tenderness found in the harsh reality of circus life and enduring love stolen from cruelty is captivating and entrancing. Told through the eyes and voices of an old timer and his younger self, it flips from past to present and back again with ease and manages to bring two stories together with equal strength and interest. A beautiful story that is beautifully read by the narrators.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Fran
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    8/30/11
    Overall
    "wonderful!"

    I listened to this for a second time when I had exhausted my new supply while away.
    And it was just as enthralling as the first listen.

    Brilliantly written and wonderfully read by the two readers.
    I can't recommend it highly enough - one of the best audibles I've listened to.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Kelly
    7/5/11
    Overall
    "A true love story"

    A true love story written to thrive in the 21st Centry, from the charactors to the plot line its well written and addictive.........

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Swindon, United Kingdom
    11/15/11
    Overall
    "The film does not even get close."

    I could not put this book down.
    I remember exactly where I was when things happened in this book.
    The character of the old man is explored to the fullest extend, this character made the story, and was completely overlooked in the film version.
    Perfect for a holiday, or summer commutes, as I did.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • w
    east horsley, United Kingdom
    11/7/11
    Overall
    "loved it"

    Unusual subject and not one I would normally choose. It made me laugh and cry. Brilliant. Do read it

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Claire Mills
    10/30/11
    Overall
    "Absorbing"

    I wasn't sure if I was going to like this audiobook when I started listening to it as I found the hopping between the current and past a little hard going and the older person's voice difficult to understand at times. But, I'm glad I perservered with it. The story is very original and draws you in. Worth a listen

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • joanna
    Bingham, United Kingdom
    10/2/11
    Overall
    "Wonderfully engaging Big Top Book"

    This book tells the story of a young man thrown into the life of a circus worker after his parents are killed. The wonderful transition between times takes the listening into two very different but equally compelling settings. Brilliant !!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • holly bird
    6/30/11
    Overall
    "Great Original Story"

    Great to read an original book for a change. I knew nothing about the american circus trains, and now I do! Takes place during the American Depression. The love story is a bit lame but otherwise a terrific listen.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Annie
    Derby
    10/22/10
    Overall
    "I Loved it!"

    A really enjoyable listen, on a par with 'The Help'. This has been one of those books I couldn't wait to get back to; it was really well structured and well read, I was thoroughly entertained the whole way through. I highly recommend this audiobook.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Madgey
    7/18/11
    Overall
    "Enjoyed every single second …."

    It left me wanting more…. I did not want the story to end. I laughed and cried. This is a tale simply told, an account that was both funny & sad, on times illustrating the cruelty inherent in some human beings and the goodness of others. The narration was outstanding, it brought the wonderful characters to life and I could really see them through ‘Jacobs’ eyes. It also made me think about the value we place on our elderly population. Can’t wait to watch the film, hope it lives up to the book.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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