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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.
Regular Price:$24.46
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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 (14704 )
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4.3 (7057 )
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4.5 (6978 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Karen Kinser Chesapeake, VA, US 05-09-08
    Karen Kinser Chesapeake, VA, US 05-09-08 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    71
    7
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    Overall
    "Water . . . and PRAISE for Elephants."

    This is only the 2nd review I have written . . . and this is the 2nd most WONDERFUL story I have listened to in a very very long time.
    I cannot help but be reminded of "Little Big Man" in the almost epic quality and history of the story - as well as the attitude and "voice" of the storyteller. This tale entwined the magic that is the circus with the magic of love and lust and greed and all things human. And besides . . . it was entertaining as Barnum & Bailey themselves! I loved the connection with the animals . . . and the description of the era. I have nothing but praise for this "read". Who will write the screenplay? It will be in theatres for sure!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jin Poughkeepsie, NY, USA 04-30-08
    Jin Poughkeepsie, NY, USA 04-30-08
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    5
    Overall
    "Entertaining listen"

    I enjoyed this book, thought the two narrators were excellent and the storyline was intriguing. However the main character didn't resonate with me, he was very two dimensional.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erin Liman Palo Alto, CA United States 04-28-08
    Erin Liman Palo Alto, CA United States 04-28-08 Member Since 2007
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    "Wonderful"

    I loved this book.

    Not only were the personalities of the main characters richly conveyed -- the circus animals were vividly painted as well. Though at times, I felt like shaking the main character and saying "what are you thinking?" -- I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. IRVINE, US, Canada 04-27-08
    J. IRVINE, US, Canada 04-27-08 Member Since 2005

    Schammer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
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    REVIEWS
    439
    15
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    1
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    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
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    145
    17
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    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
    20
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    37
    12
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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
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    366
    79
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    2
    0
    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

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