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Water for Elephants | [Sara Gruen]

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

4.3 (14590 )
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4.3 (6947 )
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4.5 (6867 )
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Performance
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  •  
    J. IRVINE, US, Canada 04-27-08
    J. IRVINE, US, Canada 04-27-08 Member Since 2005

    Schammer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    438
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Great"

    Great read. Great reader. Tha's all you need to know. Read it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Napa, CA, USA 04-16-08
    Amy Napa, CA, USA 04-16-08
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    1
    Overall
    "Great circuis love story"

    I really liked this book. It chronicals the characters well. You feel like you are part of the story line. I had no idea what circuis life was like in the 20's & 30's. I recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MoxyIdeas 04-13-08
    MoxyIdeas 04-13-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    145
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    "Wonderful!"

    This is a wonderful story - at times stark and sad, at times lovely and touching. I loved the ending. The narrators were convincing - I was at the circus, then I was at the nursing home. Thank you, Ms. Gruen! Excellent!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca san jose, CA, USA 04-01-08
    Rebecca san jose, CA, USA 04-01-08 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    "Great!"

    Both the story and the reading are out of this world. It resonated with me for days after finishing it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa ChristchurchNew Zealand 03-18-08
    Lisa ChristchurchNew Zealand 03-18-08
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Water for Elephants"

    My first ever audible book. A fantastic read, used it for exercising (walking) - my dog wondered why we were walking for so long! Lisa Judd, Christchurch, New Zealand

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Petersburg, PA, United States 03-16-08
    Patricia Petersburg, PA, United States 03-16-08 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
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    37
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    "Do not miss this one!"

    I laughed. I cried. So will you. A beautifully done book. Essentially it is the flashback of a man who worked for a traveling circus. He was finishing up Vet school when events sent him to the circus. Now, he is at the end of his life so the story jumps effectively between now and then. A "must" title to have in your audivle library.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Bronx, NY, United States 03-05-08
    Jennifer Bronx, NY, United States 03-05-08 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    70
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    358
    79
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
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    Overall
    "Wonderful book - well worth the money!"

    Really one of the few books that was engaging from beginning to end. Very entertaining and well written. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CH Kaufman NY 02-26-08
    CH Kaufman NY 02-26-08 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    7
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    0
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    "Terrific"

    I loved this book, one of those I slowed down at the end to make it last. Very moving and emotinal

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle waycross, GA, USA 02-21-08
    Michelle waycross, GA, USA 02-21-08 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    93
    20
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    "delightful"

    Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanne 02-20-08
    Jeanne 02-20-08 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    10
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    0
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    Overall
    "Loved it!"

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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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