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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 (18108 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Cameron Anchorage, AK, United States 01-18-11
    Cameron Anchorage, AK, United States 01-18-11

    Disabled Alaskan reader of mostly mysteries historical. Also vampires, werewolves, things that go bump in the night! Some scifi and fantasy!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful story"

    There are certainly parts of the book that people could find offensive but the book is about circus people during the Depression. People didn't have the Internet nor did they have Playboy or whatever. Alot of these shows had the hootchie cooch tent and the men who separate from their wives and they would go in and see the show and it was a break from the hum drum lives. Everything is so PC now but then it was different, people who were different, like little people etc the only way many of them could make a living was at a circus or a carnival, many of them, their parents would sell them to the circus or carnival, it was a different time. It is a great story, very real to life for example the old man Camel ends up sick from drinking bootleg liquor. The prohibition was going on and the US government had companies poisoning the industrial alcohol that bootleggers would get and sell. People with money could go places that smuggled their booze in form Canada but poor people drank whatever they could get their hands on, just like alcoholics today often buy cough syrup. Also redlighting was something that happened, that would be when they had to many hands and not enough money, they's kick people out of the train while it was moving. I think it's a shame when people want everything to be PC, like the recent rewriting of Huckleberry Finn.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thom & Donna 01-15-11 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
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    "great narrations"

    this is a good story made great because of the narrations. a yes in my eyes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Loomis, CA, United States 01-14-11
    Catherine Loomis, CA, United States 01-14-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Worth the Listen for The Narration Alone"

    Decided to give this one a listen because it is being made into a movie. Really enjoyed the story (although there are some explicit parts), but was blown away by the narration! David LeDoux was the most impressive narrator I have listened to yet. And paired with John Randolph Jones, who touched me deeply, I finished this book changed in a way I don't know if the author intended. I will never pass an elderly person again with out hearing Jones' voice and knowing I could make a difference.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nena GARDINER, MAINE, United States 01-12-11
    Nena GARDINER, MAINE, United States 01-12-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Water for Elephants-Loved it!"

    It was wonderful to listen on my Itouch as I made an entire quilt but I enjoyed the actors who read and I have recommended it to many of my friends. Easy way to pick up an audible book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzie El Cajon, United States Minor Outlying Islands 01-10-11
    Suzie El Cajon, United States Minor Outlying Islands 01-10-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
    Overall
    "Awful, Horrible, Filled with Animal Abuse"

    I tried my best to listen to this book. It is well written and expertly narrated, but I became so sickened at the animal abuse I had to stop listening shortly into part 2. If you love animals and hate the abuse that circus animals have always suffered, your heart will break. I wish I hadn't started listening to it... it will haunt me for quite some time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cassie DENVER, CO, United States 01-09-11
    Cassie DENVER, CO, United States 01-09-11

    PetLover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    2
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    "Wonderful Book!!!"

    I loved this book from start to finish. I didn't want it to end. Beautifully written! I recommended this book to everyone and will continue to do so. LOVED IT!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liviu Bucharest, Romania 01-05-11
    Liviu Bucharest, Romania 01-05-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    76
    6
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    1
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    Overall
    "Loved it, unpredictable, sad, funny, all at once"

    It's one of the best fiction books I've read, if not the best. The reading is absolutely spectacular and it's what gives this book a big part of it's appeal. Loved it from start to finish. It's a great story, with some great twists and it keeps you wanting to read one more page (minute) all through the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas W. Gleason 12-24-10

    Tom Gleason

    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    179
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    "Great characters and story"

    Gripping from start to finish. I loved the characters, and the story, while giving few surprises, is very well told and interesting. I particularly loved the author's ability to show the perspective of the main character in old age and as a youth. The scenes and insights into aging and living in an institution were particularly powerful and very well written. I loved the ending, but hated to say goodbye to the people I met in the story.. it was that good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    warwick Ames 12-04-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Rare report"

    Long time audible fan, with wide ranging tastes. Have never written a review but this book was wonderful. Maybe it caught me at the right mood but it was enchanting. I simply don't want to listen to anything else for awhile but just mull over this story. Awesome narration too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Yowie Bay, Australia 11-29-10
    Lee Yowie Bay, Australia 11-29-10 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
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    "Entertaining!"

    This book is wonderful!! Narration is fabulous and very believable... The story line keeps you guessing all throughout and the ending is simply beautiful.... for all those that dreamed of running away to the circus.. this one's for you!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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