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Publisher's Summary

Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. In the Depression era, 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: Marlena, beautiful star of the equestrian act; August, her charismatic but twisted husband (and the circus' animal trainer); and Rosie, the seemingly untrainable elephant Jacob cares for.

©2006 Sara Gruen (P)2006 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

"This marvelously exciting and satisfying book has been given the engaging audio production it deserves." ( Audiofile)
" Water for Elephants is fun, sweet and thrilling and will pull you into the mysterious life of the circus so far that you won't want to leave." ( Guardian)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • ptuff
  • 03-02-16

excellent story, well told.


this was a superb tale, well crafted and smoothly narrated . I was transported to the circus and felt the graft and grime of the reality of a travelling show years ago, while being immersed in a love story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • mrs
  • 03-27-17

loved it

this made a nice change from the novels I usually read. It was a good story, well told. I cared about the characters which, for me is essential.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs
  • 03-13-17

Great book. A definite must.

What did you like most about Water for Elephants?

I can't choose one aspect of this book. I thought both narrators were brilliant, the way the story switched between the young and old man were exceptionally good. I couldn't put it down.

What other book might you compare Water for Elephants to, and why?

I can't think of another book which so brilliantly juxtaposes two periods in a life. The handling of the old Jacob was particularly sensitive.

Have you listened to any of David LeDoux and John Randolph Jones ’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I haven't heard either of them before. I think they were both first class. John Randolph Jones made me cry more than once.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

From the beginning there were many and the ending was very good as well.

Any additional comments?

Read it and love it - although I know nothing about circus life it seemed very authentic and dreadful.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-15-18

Water for Elephanfs!

A beautifully poignant story of a life well lived! Excellently narrated, especially the part of old Jacob.

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  • KIRSTEN
  • 06-07-18

Excellent!

This was a thought-provoking, well-paced, deeply moving adventure story. I first came across the book after watching the film and being totally drawn into it - so much so that I wanted to not only read Sara Gruen's book, but also find out more about the train circuses of America. The film follows the book pretty faithfully, but I loved that the book allowed you to get to know the characters in so much more depth, and I particularly loved the narration by the older Jacob, which added a touching counterbalance to the excitement and danger of his younger days. It was beautifully narrated by both voice actors. Well worth a listen.

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  • vicky ross
  • 06-05-18

brill book

very well narrated and excellent audio book must read for anyone good characters good storyline loved it

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  • Meena Kadri
  • 05-16-17

I actually found it depressing

I was so excited to listen to this but I actually found it quite depressing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-04-18

transports you to another life

what a truly lovely book. transports you to a wonderful world of the circus and you feel like you are right there with them.
The older gentleman's reading is abit hard to hear at times but overall it's a wonderful book.