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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 (13412 )
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4.3 (5904 )
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4.5 (5831 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Debra Mt. Juliet, TN, United States 03-26-07
    Debra Mt. Juliet, TN, United States 03-26-07 Member Since 2006

    Love books, all kinds, all shapes, all formats! Audiobooks have made my daily commute so much less stressful! Major fan of Audible.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    122
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Delightful!"

    Wonderful story. Excellent performances. A true delight to get to look forward to each commute in my car - just to get to hear the next installment of this wonderful audiobook!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Germantown, TN, USA 03-24-07
    Heather Germantown, TN, USA 03-24-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "very moving"

    What a wonderful story! I enjoyed both readers, very easy to listen to on my morning walks. I couldn't wait to hit the pavement in the morning just so I could listen to the book. I was pleasantly surprised!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela San Antonio, TX, USA 03-23-07
    Pamela San Antonio, TX, USA 03-23-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    56
    ratings
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    13
    10
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Best Read for 2007"

    I am amazed how much I love this book since I was hesitant to invest a lot of time on a fictional novel about circus people. Was I surprised to find this novel was packed full of suspense, drama, mystery, survival and romance. The book is so incredible, I could hardly put it down. I like a well rounded story with all the elements of suspense, drama, action, mystery, romance and believable characters, and this one has it all and lots more. Can't remember the last time I read a book that brought real tears to my eyes. Bravo to the author and the wonderful narrators!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Deephaven, MN, USA 03-23-07
    Catherine Deephaven, MN, USA 03-23-07 Member Since 2005
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    1
    Overall
    "Exceptional"

    This book is fantastic

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Buzzards Bay, MA, United States 03-22-07
    Barbara Buzzards Bay, MA, United States 03-22-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    75
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    138
    19
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    3
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    Overall
    "Water for Elephants"

    Excellent book! Great story! Highly recommend this one!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jody Portland, OR, USA 03-21-07
    Jody Portland, OR, USA 03-21-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Fantastic"

    I couldn't ask for more. This book was interesting, engaging, funny, tragic and heartwarming. I loved it and recommended it to a half dozen friends after listening. What a great time. I didn't want it to end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mardie Sammamish, WA, USA 03-19-07
    Mardie Sammamish, WA, USA 03-19-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    37
    1
    Overall
    "A Circus Novel"

    I enjoyed this novel about a rag-tag circus during the Depression. Jacob J. is a compelling main character and narrator. It's a good book for a long road trip - kept me engaged til the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zora Wexford, PA, USA 03-19-07
    Zora Wexford, PA, USA 03-19-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
    Overall
    "Wonderfully Entertaining"

    This book is truly different. The characters are entertaining and the book is hard to put down. If you like history with your fiction, this book is for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LindaL 03-14-07
    LindaL 03-14-07 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    3
    1
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    Overall
    "THE BEST - REALLY!"

    This is one of the best books I've listened to. The two narrators added flavor and kept the pace going. It felt like I've known Jacob all my life. Made me remember the first time I went to the circus as a child and want to go there now with either Jacob. A very thought-provoking, poignant but happy book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erica Sacramento, CA, USA 03-14-07
    Erica Sacramento, CA, USA 03-14-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    1
    Overall
    "A Great Story!!"

    Finally a great book to read!! Highly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 951-960 of 1084 results PREVIOUS1959697109NEXT
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  • 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.

    9 of 9 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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    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.........

    6 of 6 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.

    5 of 5 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

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Claire
    Yate, United Kingdom
    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

    5 of 5 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 !!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    Twickenham, United Kingdom
    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.

    5 of 5 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.

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Madge
    Abergavenny, United Kingdom
    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.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 53 results PREVIOUS126NEXT

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