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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 (18413 )
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4.4 (10458 )
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4.6 (10381 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Phyllis 04-12-11
    Phyllis 04-12-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Driveway moments"

    I sat in my driveway and office parking lot just to get to the end of several of the chapters. I loved the narrators. The ending was a little contrived but I still enjoyed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melinda Kincardine, NB, Canada 04-11-11
    Melinda Kincardine, NB, Canada 04-11-11 Member Since 2010

    what I think

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    76
    2
    Overall
    "really worth listening too"

    I was addicted to this audio book and listened to it none stop. Really great readers, they made the book come to life. It is my opinion that good audio books are few and far between but this was great! I also recommend The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meg HELOTES, TEXAS, United States 04-09-11
    Meg HELOTES, TEXAS, United States 04-09-11 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    2
    Overall
    "Truly great"

    What a story! I loved every minute of this book. The voice and storytelling ability of both readers fit their character perfectly. You really can't have picked a better book when it manages to provide not only an entertaining escape from your daily routine but also an enchanting, and somehow still very relate-able, perspective on life's great joys (and familiar nuances).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline Alameda, CA, United States 04-08-11
    Caroline Alameda, CA, United States 04-08-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
    ratings
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    19
    7
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    1
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    Overall
    "Fantastic!"

    Wonderful story (although a little dark and sad in the beginning), enhanced by David LeDoux's narration. Couldn't wait to get in my car every day to pick up where I'd left off.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jmom 04-08-11
    Jmom 04-08-11 Listener Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    2
    Overall
    "This is a Great Book!"

    Loved the characters, story kept me wanting more. Listened to it all within 2 days!
    I would highly recommend this book to anyone!

    The only part I didn't like was that at first I couldn't make out what the older man narration was saying but I got used to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah BATTLE CREEK, MICHIGAN, United States 04-07-11
    Sarah BATTLE CREEK, MICHIGAN, United States 04-07-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Loved it!!"

    I absolutely loved this book!!! I found myself taking any opportunity I could to listen to it. This was my first book purchased on audible and I am MORE than happy that I decided on it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louise Galt, CA, United States 04-07-11
    Louise Galt, CA, United States 04-07-11 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    111
    3
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    0
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    "A beautiful story and a compelling reader."

    I throughly enjoyed the story and the readers brought the story to life. As a nurse has worked in nursing homes for several decades, I especially appreciated the relationship between a very caring nurse and the main character.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lannette Ajo, AZ, United States 04-07-11
    Lannette Ajo, AZ, United States 04-07-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    92
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    99
    42
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    11
    0
    Overall
    "Nice story, but would have liked more detail."

    I had to read (listen) to the book twice to really appreciate it. It is a nice story with good characters and narration. I would have liked to see more in-depth character development as well as more details about the circus acts and the overall experience of that kind of travelling life. Thought it would be a bit more gritty, but a good read to the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalie Catania 04-07-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    5
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    0
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    Overall
    "Great listen!"

    Best book so far! I would really recommend for people with imagination. A must buy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fatina Bisat 04-06-11

    Tina

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    32
    5
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    0
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    Overall
    "Very entertaining story"

    I thought the book was very well researched. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the both narrators ( one at age 23 and the other at 93) .

    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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