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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 (17116 )
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4.4 (9273 )
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4.6 (9194 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tyson Sugihara Utah 11-15-10
    Tyson Sugihara Utah 11-15-10 Member Since 2013

    Sugi

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    28
    3
    Overall
    "Entertaining"

    I purchased this book for a road trip. I'm not quite sure why people are giving this book negative reviews based on sexually related content. I didn't think it was any worse than primetime network TV shows. I do think the story is somewhat predictable, but a good one nonetheless. David LeDoux and John Randolph Jones did a phenomenal job narrating, and probably added at least one star to my review because of their great performances. I hope this helps.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Sterling, VA, United States 11-15-10
    Patricia Sterling, VA, United States 11-15-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    16
    14
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    0
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    Overall
    "A great listen"

    I loved this story by Sara Gruen. My only warning is that if you have a heart that is senstive to animal abuse, you will find parts of this story hard to get through. But if you push through, you will love this story. The ending totally took me by surprise. Loved it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 11-14-10 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    6
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "FABULOUS!"

    *THE* most fabulous audible I've listened to ....all other will pale. I was filled with sorrow when it was over....and miss the characters. Will listen to it again, and again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bret SOUTH BERWICK, ME, United States 11-12-10
    Bret SOUTH BERWICK, ME, United States 11-12-10 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
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    20
    5
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    0
    1
    Overall
    "Great narration, good book"

    I was hooked with the narration of this book- it definately added to the reading experience. The plot was good too, with charracter development and interesting plotlines. There were some graphic, uncomfortable parts, but overall I have reccomended this book to several people with varying tastes.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stanley Germantown, WI, United States 11-11-10
    Stanley Germantown, WI, United States 11-11-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    59
    16
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    0
    0
    Overall
    "Addition of Last Minute Character Diminishes Value"

    My objection to many modern books is the addition of a last minute character who quickly redirects the flow of the novel from where it would have gone otherwise. I was a hijacked reader who was forced to make a 90 degree turn. The ending was unreasonable and diminished my enjoyment of the book. Frankly, I had written a better ending in my head.

    Having said that, both readers did a fantastic job and made the journey up to the last couple of chapters enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Westfield 11-11-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    175
    6
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    0
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    "Listening to this book is the only way to read it!"

    This is a great story but it only comes alive when listened to - the sequential chapters of the old man and his younger self are wonderfully performed by the readers -- it is worth listening to even if you have already read it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine NOVATO, CA, United States 11-10-10
    Katherine NOVATO, CA, United States 11-10-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "A book you cant stop listening to!"

    I have heard wonderful things about Water for Elephants, and this was only my 3rd audiobook. After I started listening and getting into the characters I couldnt stop listening!! I switched off between listening during my walks and listening during my long commutes in the car. The book was so good I actually looked forward to my long drives to and from work. I just finished and I am sad it is over. I definitely recommend getting this book. It had the perfect amount of romance and excitement- a few action scenes as well!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Boulder, CO, United States 11-07-10
    Ellen Boulder, CO, United States 11-07-10 Member Since 2013

    Business consultant specializing in Infusionsoft marketing automation setup for educators and Advertising Sales Rep for Rotating Mass Media

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    37
    3
    Overall
    "Fantastic story & narrator"

    This book was wonderful. I couldn't stop listening as soon as it started. The narration was perfect. I highly recommend this book as a quick listening, entertaining story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kaui 11-05-10
    Kaui 11-05-10 Member Since 2015

    I love to walk and run listening to audiobooks

    HELPFUL VOTES
    120
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    248
    77
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    Overall
    "A lovely love story"

    set against the harsh realities of the traveling circus. The brutality of a few individuals shapes the misery of animals and humans alike. The comraderie amongst the different factions is touching. And the narrator's description of old age is at once humorous and poignant. This is a wonderful read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen 10-27-10
    Karen 10-27-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    17
    5
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    0
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    "Loved it!!!"

    I was really sad when this book ended. It was very entertaining and heart wrenching. My parents are in their 80's are facing nursing home life. It touched my heart...

    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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