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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 (17279 )
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4.4 (9421 )
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4.6 (9343 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    amyjh98 07-18-10
    amyjh98 07-18-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
    ratings
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    12
    6
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    10
    Overall
    "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
  •  
    M. Byrd Vancouver, WA USA 07-18-10
    M. Byrd Vancouver, WA USA 07-18-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    412
    3
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    2
    Overall
    "One of my favorite Listens"

    Just get it, I swear you will be entertained. The naration is spot on, and the charaters are as well drawn as it gets.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tammy Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada 07-16-10
    Tammy Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada 07-16-10 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    43
    11
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    7
    Overall
    "FANTASTIC !"

    Great story, Terrific narration, the best ending EVER !!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audra wyoming, mi, United States 07-13-10
    Audra wyoming, mi, United States 07-13-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    4
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    Overall
    "Outstanding Imagery by Gruen"

    Gruen did an absolute amazing job with the imagery in her novel Water for Elephants. The circus is a colorful and exciting spectacle, and she was able to capture the beauty of it. On the other hand, in the midst of the excitement she painted a darker picture of the underlying world that puts that whole show together. From the dark characters, to the animals, and even to the conditions in which they live, Gruen captured all of this in both beautiful and grotesque imagery. Fantastic read, highly recommend to anyone who appreciates attention to detail and a good story.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Ryan 07-06-10
    Mary Ryan 07-06-10 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    100
    14
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    Overall
    "FANTASTIC!"

    This book was absolutely fantastic, and the two readers were phenomenal. This was worth every penny, I couldn't stop listening!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fran Pearson 07-04-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
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    647
    32
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    3
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    Overall
    "Just wonderful."

    This is my favorite recent book.
    It's story-telling at its best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine 06-29-10
    Katherine 06-29-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
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    24
    11
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    "Catches you and Won't Let Go"

    Give this book 90 minutes and you will be caught. It is a beautiful story with all the things you need; tragedy, romance, history. It is simply enthralling.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    knitsistah 06-25-10
    knitsistah 06-25-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    111
    20
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    "Touching Story, Technical Blip"

    It was a bitter-sweet story enhanced by listening to a recording with two readers who sounded age-appropriate. Wanted to read it in advance of movie with Rob Pattinson, can't wait. Technical problem with the recording, Audible seems to have mixed up parts one and two. The standard Audible intro and middle-section instructions about reaching the end of a part, but not the end.... are on the second (last download), but no introduction on the opening. A little confusing at first, wasn't sure I was at the beginning of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalia P. Valdes 06-17-10 Member Since 2015

    Natalia

    HELPFUL VOTES
    324
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    466
    88
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    73
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    Overall
    "Wow."

    This was one of those books that I was hesitant to push pause. I really enjoyed the story and the characters were so realistic. The villain has a side that is so like-able that you find yourself questioning the fact that he is a villain. The hero is flawed which makes him even better and the romance is wonderful yet downplayed. You actually care about Jacob and not just his relationships. The story shifts between past and present and without giving too much away the ending really brings it all together. This is an amazing read and i highly recommend picking it up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marjory Bloomington, IL, United States 06-08-10
    Marjory Bloomington, IL, United States 06-08-10 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
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    165
    8
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    Overall
    "Perfect"

    I loved this book. The two narrators were perfect and add a great touch to such a wonderful novel.

    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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