Water for Elephants

Version: Unabridged
Author: Sara Gruen
Narrator: John Randolph Jones , David LeDoux
Genres: Literature
Publisher: HighBridge Audio
Published In: May 2006
# of Units: 10 CDs
Length: 11 hours, 30 minutes
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An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of "Riding Lessons.
When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.
Beautifully written, "Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.

Reviews (64)

Written by Rachel O on September 29th, 2017

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Have loved this book for a long time and loved listening to it again. Beautiful story.

Water for Elephants

Written by Dana P on March 31st, 2017

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Loved it. I have read the book myself, seen the movie, and now enjoyed the audio version.

Water for Elephants

Written by Kylie Sullivan on October 25th, 2016

  • Book Rating: 5/5

An amazing book. I had no troubles trying to get into it. There were great narrators.

Written by Tiffany Sessions on August 24th, 2016

  • Book Rating: 2/5

For me the best part of this "read" was the narrator(s). For me the story lacked character development - I just wasn't a big fan, and I always felt like something was missing with every character - seemed shallow, never really understood what made each character tick. I would have stopped listening but every one said it was so good - so I kept listening waiting for it to get better, for me personally it never did.

Great story

Written by Cindy W. on September 14th, 2012

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Great story ~ Wonderful characters! Could have read on and on past the ending!

Not so much

Written by RHALE from Laporte, IN on December 23rd, 2011

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I didn't love this book. It seemed very patched together - each chapter ragged with very rough edges forced to fit into the surrounding story. Almost as if the author thought "Hmmm.... better put a fight scene here." or "60 pages in already, time for sex scene". I was not impressed with either the overall story or the flat one dimensional charecters. The story was actually a little depressing.

Great story!

Written by Anonymous from San Diego, CA on July 15th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Loved this story. Very cute how it jumps between Jacob (the main character) as a young and old man. I enjoyed the historical bits about the old time circus trains and all the crazy characters who worked on them. Highly recommend.

great book

Written by Anonymous from Danville, CA on May 20th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 4/5

loved the book; found the "young Jacob" narrator's voice a bit annoying, but still would highly recommend.

Water for Elephants

Written by Joni from Emmett, ID on April 29th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 5/5

My favorite book ever! I was hoping for a happy ending and was wondering how the author would pull it off. I was suprised and happy with the ending.

Great Read!

Written by Fred on April 23rd, 2011

  • Book Rating: 5/5

One of my favorite books ever!! It was so entertaining, full of humor, joy, and pathos. A terrific ending!

Author Details

Author Details

Gruen, Sara

Sara Gruen's first novel, Riding Lessons, was published in 2004. She is an animal lover who lives with her husband, three children, five cats, two goats, a dog, and a horse in an environmental community north of Chicago. Many of the characters and incidents in the novel are based on real people and true stories gleaned from her extensive research into the world of traveling circuses of the 1930s.

Sara is a Canadian-born dual citizen (Canadian and American) who moved to the States in 1999 for a technical writing job. When she was laid off two years later, instead of looking for another job, she decided to take a gamble on writing fiction full-time. Fortunately, the gamble paid off.

Until 2007 she, her husband, three children, two dogs, two cats, three goats, and horse in an environmentalist community in northern Illinois.They now live in Asheville, North Carolina.

Her novels to date are Riding Lessons (2004) and Flying Changes (2005), featuring Annemarie Zimmer; and Water for Elephants (2006). The Ape House is due to be published in 2009.