In the middle of the 18th century, a ship docks at Bristol with an extraordinary cargo: two young elephants. Bought by a wealthy landowner, they are taken to his estate in the English countryside.
A stable boy, Tom Page, is given the task of caring for them. The Elephant Keeper is Tom's account of his life with the elephants.
©2009 Christopher Nicholson (P)2010 WF Howes Ltd
This story is set in mid to late 18th century England, and is focused on a young man who becomes the devoted keeper of an aristocrat's elephant whom he names Jenny. When she is later sold he goes with her, through a series of situations increasingly dire for both. There is much reflection in this first person narrative on the plight of captive animals as he observes her throughout his life. The realistic story cannot help but be a sorrowful one because of humanity's thoughtless treatment of animals, but there is also much to appreciate. The narrator does a very good job with all the passing characters, and captures what I imagine are the infamous regional and class differences in the English accents. The ending is jarring in that there is no actual ending to the story line, only conjecture from someone suddenly speaking from the present. You have to be prepared for that. I gave this a 4 star rating because I love English history and feel I learned about that time and place; the elephant was very appealing; the keeper was kind, gentle and thoughtful; and the narration was good.
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