Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen Narrators: David LaDoux & John Randolph Jones

Water for Elephants by Sara GruenNarrators: David LaDoux & John Randolph Jones
Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants
Sara Gruen
Narrator: David LeDoux
Narrator: John Randolph Jones
HighBridge Company
Duration: 11 hrs, 32 mins.

I can't imagine just reading this book and missing out on the astonishing, narration by David LeDoux. His reading is sensitive, emotional without being maudlin, a perfect balance between the two is maintained throughout the story. The naivety of Jacob, his innocence, and his growing in experience about the harsher side of life, and the gentler, kinder aspects as Jacob matures, are depicted with the mellow voice of LeDoux's amazing narration. He has the unique ability to make you see through his voice, Jacob's frustrations, sorrows, and the first blooming of love. Not listening to the audio version will deprive you of the fantastic, narration of the circus sounds, that now are a distant memory for but a very few lucky enough to have lived during the times before pre-bagged cotton candy, or popcorn.  LeDoux does justice to bringing the sounds and smells of the Benzini circus to your ears.

It is a stunning performance, when too wonderful narrators, pair up to do one book. John Randolph Jones does an excellent and moving narration of Jacob from his nonagenarian years. It is a powerful rendition giving full potency to the frustrations of aging. John Randolph's Jone's narration of Jacob is convincing, compelling, and much of the time heart wrenching.

Reviews of books, often give a short run down of the basic story. Often you read tons of book  reviews whereby the book subject sounds like a typical, run of the mill story. You yawn, and move on to another title looking for something to tickle your interest. What is going to make you actually pickup that book and read it? To be honest, many, many, reviews are not very inspiring. Indeed, many make a book sound like a hundred similar books. Water for Elephants, was one of those books. I saw a fair amount of reviews that I scanned through, and wasn't especially intrigued with the topic. Old man, reminisces about his youth and time spent in working for a circus. Truly, it did not sound terribly interesting to me. Yet, I was totally hooked by chapter 2, the merger of narrators and text was astounding, the inner workings and people of the circus life were fascinating. The protagonist, a young college student, close to taking final exams, with plans to join his father's veterinarian practice, has his world turned upside down when his parents are killed in an auto accident. He learns his parents had mortgaged the business and his father was not making any cash money to pay the mortgage. The bank is repossessing everything.  Devastated, suddenly homeless, broke, and heart broken, his wanderings lead him into an unexpected life path when he jumps a box car and meets up with the circus workers. One of the older men in the boxcar takes a liking to him, and gets him a job with circus. He starts out cleaning the box cars after the animals are taken off. A smelly, nasty job, Jason, being depressed, is content to do whatever he's offered, as does need to eat, and make money to live on. Working for a circus doesn't allow a lot of time for him to dwell on his parents death or think about much of anything. Because, he looks young and clean, he's put on duty to guide crowds to concessions around the circus grounds, one is the hootchy- kootchy tent, where he is nearly undone by his first real life nude woman. Her strip tease act makes him forget that he's there to make sure the men don't get out of hand. His comical reactions to her provocative act are were extremely well done by LaDoux.  Later, Jacob's skills as a veterinarian are discovered when a favored horse is lame, although he has no cure for it, he is deemed to be the circus's official veterinarian. This raises him up the rung of of the circus hierarchy, bringing some small benefits in eating and sleeping accommodations. The story segues between Jacob's time in the circus and Jacob's later life in an assisted living home. I loved the ending and really laughed and was very pleased with it.

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