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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 (17234 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amanda mentone, CA, United States 08-03-10
    Amanda mentone, CA, United States 08-03-10 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    4
    Overall
    "Don't"

    I could not finish this book because of the constant cursing and the unnecessary description of the main characters first sexual encounter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony WA 08-03-10
    Anthony WA 08-03-10 Member Since 2016

    Audible has opened up a whole new world of reading that I could not make work in the traditional page turning world. I am on a mission to listen to a wide variety of adventures, mysteries, thrillers, classics, etc. Thank you Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great listen!"

    I was quite surprised by this book. I have looked at it for a long time but was hesitant to buy it because it sounded a little dull. As time has passed I continued to hear and read excellent reviews and I was swayed to give it a listen. I was quickly drawn into the story and found this book hard to stop listening to. The narration is nothing short of spectacular. Both Mr. LeDoux and Jones make the characters come to life with emotion you can nearly feel. The only criticism I have is in regards to the way the author ends the book. I am not going to provide details, but I found the ending a little too unrealistic. Well worth the listen over all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawanna Price 08-01-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyed very Much!!"

    I have had this book in my wish list for a long time but just recently purchased it. Well worth the credit. A little different then what I'm used to! Normally read stuff like Diana Gabaldon & Gena Showalter, This book starts out a little slow but gets going quickly. A very charming read. I like the Narrators, They do a great job of young & old Jacob. I love how S.G. made Old Jacob Spunky & realistic, in fact I had a clear vision of all the Characters & the time period. I definitely recommend this book & plan on seeing WFE when it comes to theaters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Fraser Watertown,WI USA 08-01-10
    Lynn Fraser Watertown,WI USA 08-01-10 Member Since 2012

    walkaway

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic"

    I bought this book due to the readers reviews. I was not, in any way disappointed. Loved the ending. I, unlike a few of your reviewers, did not see the ending coming so to speak. A lovely surprise. Will read more by the author, gladly! Second favorite book of all time!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill Franklin, CT, United States 08-01-10
    Jill Franklin, CT, United States 08-01-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Wonderful!"

    I had picked up this book in the store a few times and didn't think I would enjoy a book about a circus or circus life. I decided to pick up this audiobook on a sale day, and I am glad I did. It is so much more than a circus book, and it has stayed with me. I adored the narration of Jacob at 90 (or 93), and my heart went out to him as he described his existence at this stage of life. The description of life during the Depression was interesting and sad, and the characters were well developed.

    It is true, as another reviewer mentioned, that there is some explicit language and raunchy situations, but it is done with humor and is relevant to the story. That being said, the book is not appropriate for children, but a definite thumbs up from me!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Rock Hill, SC, United States 07-31-10
    Susan Rock Hill, SC, United States 07-31-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best!"

    I could kick myself for waiting so long to listen to this. This is one of the best audible books I've listened to. Great book! Can't wait for the movie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cristie visalia, CA, United States 07-30-10
    cristie visalia, CA, United States 07-30-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A great listen"

    If you want to try out an audio book this one is great. The narrators really bring the story alive. Can't wait for the movie to come out. I really loved the ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Evans Mississippi 07-24-10
    D. Evans Mississippi 07-24-10 Member Since 2009

    reader 1953

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Great trip to the circus"

    I enjoyed the younger life the best until the very end when I decided I liked the older portion, too. It's nice to "take a trip" when you read a book. This one took me to a colorful circus.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jo Ann Turner 07-22-10 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good story."

    I thought this book was very good. And both readers were rigth for their age in his ilfe. I've heard it will be a movie so I'll watch for it in the coming year.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    amyjh98 07-18-10
    amyjh98 07-18-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow at the start, but then so so good!"

    I found the beginning a little hard to get into, but once i had listened to it a while the characters really began to develop and the story had me hooked. Great Book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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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.

    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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