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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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4.6 (10381 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Richard Lockport, NY, United States 03-28-11
    Richard Lockport, NY, United States 03-28-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent in every way"

    This is a superior read and well narrated. My biggest regret was when it ended, but what an ending!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alena 03-28-11
    alena 03-28-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Just loved it!"

    I really loved this book! I've been going through the Audible essentials list, and this is a truly great audio book. The ending in particular is really sweet. I love the way the dual storylines get woven together. The 90, or 93 year old Jacob reminded me of taking care of my partner's 92 year old grandmother-- I always loved the little snippets of stories that survived in her mind. Such a sweet book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray GRAPEVIEW, WA, United States 03-28-11
    Ray GRAPEVIEW, WA, United States 03-28-11 Member Since 2015

    FlagAmerica

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Water for Elephants"

    A GREAT read and even better Audible story. My teen aged Grandchildren loved it also.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 03-27-11
    Mary 03-27-11
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    "Entertaining to the end"

    I enjoyed this book from beginning to the end. I highly recommend it. Can't wait to see the movie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherry HOUSTON, TX, United States 03-27-11
    Sherry HOUSTON, TX, United States 03-27-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Couldn't stop listening"

    I use these books to take my mind of exercising and this one was so good that I went way beyond the time I alloted. I found myself getting lost in the story, I could visualize the circus and all the characters.
    The old man's comments on life make you think about your own life, it's a bit scary sometimes. What makes one family care for thier elders' and another family drop thiers off in a nursing home? Does any one really want to live to be 90 or 93. The only part of the book I did not enjoy was the ending, really? Did I miss something? Should I listen again? Was he dreaming?

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard 03-26-11
    Richard 03-26-11
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    4
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    "A wonderful story"

    I couldn't wait to get back in the car and hear more of this book. The wonderfully interwoven tale of a man in his youth and in his twilight inspires introspection and produces an understanding of the plight of the elderly in a way that will make you a little uncomfortable with yourself. I absolutely loved this book. The historical perspective on life in a circus during one of the most socially troubled times in our nation's history is priceless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Traci Laguna Beach, CA, United States 03-25-11
    Traci Laguna Beach, CA, United States 03-25-11 Member Since 2010
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    35
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    "Loved Every Minute!"

    I listen to a lot of books and I wasn't sure about this one because I thought it might be strange because it was about a circus. However, from the moment I began listening, I was hooked. Very enjoyable and sweet.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Woodbridge, VA, United States 03-25-11
    Jan Woodbridge, VA, United States 03-25-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Raw and Intriguing!!! LOVED IT!"

    From the moment I pressed play, I just couldn't stop listening! What a clever story! Very well written and so creative! I cannot wait for the movie; hope it's as good as the book! You won't be disappointed! It has everything! Love, lust, intrigue, action, heartbreaking, sweet and all under the "big top". I was a bit skeptical about having 2 narrators, but it was very well done. The transitions are seamless, painting such vivid pictures!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie Arlington, TN, United States 03-24-11
    Marie Arlington, TN, United States 03-24-11 Member Since 2013

    Audible is a really great way to escape into different worlds. I love "reading" and discovering new authors and stories.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Book - profanity alert"

    Despite the profanity - this book is well written and I enjoyed both narrators very much. I gave it 4 stars because after reading the summary I thought the author would go more into depths of the "behind the scenes" of the circus. However, that being said, the author captures the diverse characters really well and shows insight to some of the characters that you cannot help but being touched. Despite taking the Lord's name in vain (constantly) and profanity, I did like the book. Ms. Gruen, keep writing, but please refrain from all those bad words!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joy Treganowan 03-24-11 Member Since 2014
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    109
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    "One of my very favorite Audible books"

    This is by far one of the best read books I have gotten from Audible, and I've been a member for about 5 years. It's one of those that is more fun to listen to than to read. And, of course the story is excellent Enjoy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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