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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 (17997 )
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4.4 (10077 )
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4.6 (10001 )
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Performance
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  •  
    MaDonna Victoria, TX, United States 03-07-11
    MaDonna Victoria, TX, United States 03-07-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    53
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    "WATER FOR ELEPHANTS"

    Really enjoyed this book, wasn't too sure about it in the beginning, but the book shocked me and made me laugh!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Herndon, VA, United States 03-06-11
    Anna Herndon, VA, United States 03-06-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    34
    6
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    0
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    Overall
    "Good, but not great"

    I think this book was good, but the suspense was highly lacking. If it hadn't been for the forward (which was a scene from the very end of the book), I'm not sure there would have been much interest on my part at all. The narrators were alright, but lacked good character voices. All in all though, I still enjoyed it. A fun little book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew 03-04-11
    Matthew 03-04-11 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    50
    4
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    0
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    Overall
    "Usually Not My Type Of Book..."

    I was only really interested in listening to this book due to the high praise of many of my co-workers(who happen to be female) and their chit chat about the book. I took a chance after listening to the brief sample recording and I will say that I enjoyed this book from the start. I thought this would be like any Nicholas Sparks book and just be predictable and sappy to the end, with maybe a few main characters dying in between. I was way off the mark, it's a very descriptive book from both perspectives utilizing 2 narrators to read the same character...his young self from the past, and his older self from the present. I was not only moved by this book, but I really felt for him throughout the story...I usually listen to thrillers/supernatural/mysteries but this one stood out like no other. It's def. worth a credit.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Upatoi, GA, United States 03-01-11
    Jeff Upatoi, GA, United States 03-01-11 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
    Overall
    "Highly recommended"

    I've been listening to books on CD etc. for several years and found this to be one of the best books I've ever listened to. You won't be disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nanette Donohue 02-20-11 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    63
    2
    Overall
    "Loved the narration, hated the music"

    This book is narrated quite nicely by two men. They did a great job. I, however, was completely annoyed by the musical transitions. However, I would listen to it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert R Pesa 02-16-11 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    34
    ratings
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    19
    15
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    1
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    Overall
    "superb"

    Loved this book, loved the readers. Definitely among my top 2 or 3 selections I've gotten from Audible in the year that I've been a member.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roxanna United States 02-08-11
    Roxanna United States 02-08-11 Member Since 2015

    Rox

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    71
    8
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    "Awesome!"

    I have listened to a lot of audio books and this is by far onw of the best. Great story, great narration. I felt so bad for the old man - the narration is wonderful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria 02-03-11
    Victoria 02-03-11 Member Since 2008

    RangerGirl

    HELPFUL VOTES
    140
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    118
    72
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    14
    3
    Overall
    "THROUGH YOUR HEART"

    I have never liked circus. I have been there twice and I do not think I ever go again. I loved the book for its honesty and the way it seeps through your heart, making you, with all of its reality, more HUMAN than you were before reading it. I was crying, I was laughing and I felt deeply ALIVE when listening to the thrilling narration of the Audible edition.

    In my heart I am sending Angels to stand by all people who work in circus all over the world and to all the animals, who happened to be in circus in this lifetime. Is circus a curse or a blessing? I am not the one to judge; do remember that I do not like circus for all the cruelly hard and seemingly unappreciated work people and animals are committed to in order to entertain the crowd...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    selena Pamplin, VA, United States 02-03-11
    selena Pamplin, VA, United States 02-03-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
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    13
    9
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    1
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    "Fantastic story and amazing narrator"

    I was son enraptured with this story i constantly found myself daydreaming about the circus and looking forward to getting in may car every chance I could to listen. And I was sad when it was over, I wanted it to go on forever. The story was unique and intense and the narrator for young Jacob was amazing and made it riveting. He did the characters such justice that the actors for the upcoming film have big shoes to fill (especially Robert Pattinson, I don't have much faith that he can pull it off).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R.C. 02-03-11
    R.C. 02-03-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    8
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    0
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    Overall
    "beautiful narration,captivating storytelling"

    i really enjoyed listening to this book. the story was good, captivating even if it was simple. it was the kind of story you thought about in between sessions, it would stick in the mind and good moments stuck with you. the narration was really some of the best i've ever experienced. i was distracted by the intro music at parts though, and it was really hard to focus on the story in those times. otherwise superbly done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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