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Water for Elephants

Length: 11 hrs and 26 mins
4 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)

Non-member price: $32.62

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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)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

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  • ptuff
  • 02-03-2016

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • mrs
  • 27-03-2017

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Catherine E Whitlow
  • 25-08-2018

A great story

Really enjoyed the story, I didn't immediately like the voice of older Jacob, but when I got used to it, it was fine. I liked the character and he seemed more realistic for being grumpy and angry, rather than a lovely old man!

I found random musical bits annoying, distracting and unnecessary.They started too early at the end of the chapter and I could not work out why they were at the end of some chapters and not to others.

All in all I would recommend people read this just be prepared for random annoying music!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs
  • 13-03-2017

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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  • The Book Worm!
  • 03-05-2019

all it promised to be

loved the book, loved the film, this was listening pleasure at it's best. Sad it ended.

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  • Sarah Webb
  • 17-01-2019

Beautiful

I watched the film a few years ago and I had a go at reading the book. I must have stopped and given up because the story wasn't clear in my head as I listened to this audio version of the same novel.

The narration was perfect--both old and young Jacob were portrayed so accurately and sometimes with such passion it was difficult to turn off the book. I have sat with both tears of laughter and sadness in my eyes, and on more than one occasion spoken out loud to nobody or shouted in indignation!

It's sad, its Uplifting, its perfect.

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  • christine - Essex
  • 14-01-2019

Magical and heartwarming

This was fantastic, from the beginning I was hooked and have listened to it every day . I really felt as though I was there too, and the old man was funny and made the whole thing very touching. Well worth a listen. Movie waiting to be watched now.

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  • chimneyman
  • 03-12-2018

Full of colour and action, sex and violence.

This story of circus life in Depression America is full of larger than life characters (both human and animal). The circus employs hundreds of people and appears to be able to travel freely around the American railroad in its own trains. It also appears to be able to set up and dismantle its infrastructure on a daily basis.

The story would make a perfect 18 certificate cartoon film voiced by well-known movie stars. As well as colour, action, sex and violence, it includes fantasy, tragedy, comedy, sadness and joy. It even has a (sort of) happy ending.

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  • Karina
  • 17-10-2018

Nice to listen to a different story

Not my usual story line, but glad I picked this one.
Well narrated story of a young boy joining the circus and switching to him as an old ninety something (he never could remember how old he was!) reminiscing in the old people home.
Just one thing that irritated me, with no warning occasionally at the end of a chapter, just as your are deep in the story some unrelated music starts playing. The tone didn't even go with what was happening.
But apart from that a good interesting book about the hard life in a circus.

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  • K
  • 13-10-2018

lovely

story was very good and we'll read, however I really was not a fan of the music in the background