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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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  • Kirsten Carlyle
  • 08-02-18

Beautiful, amazing story!

I don’t usually write reviews but I enjoyed this story so much! It is very different to other stories that I have listened to. I found the story exciting, gripping and very memorable. The two narrators told the story very well. I really cared about all the characters, especially Rosie. Such a good ending too. I would absolutely recommend this story to anyone. 10 out of 10!

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  • Sue
  • 06-25-18

Vivid and enthralling

A really unusual story about life in a travelling circus in 1931. The story, about the adventures of Jacob, a middle-class college boy who joins the circus by accident, is vivid and enthralling. The animals are as important a part of the story as the humans, especially Rosie, the elephant and Queenie, the Jack Russell. The story is seen through the memory of Jacob once he has become 93, and lives in a nursing home, and the two story narrators are brilliant, bringing both the rough, tough world of a circus in the middle of prohibition and the depression and life for a frail old man in a nursing home to life in an unforgettable way.

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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.