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Publisher's Summary

Jaffy Brown is running along a street in London's East End when he comes face to face with an escaped circus animal. Rescued by Mr Jamrach - explorer, entrepreneur and collector of the world's strangest creatures - the two strike up a friendship. Before he knows it, Jaffy finds himself on board a ship bound for the Dutch East Indies. His journey will push faith, love and friendship to their utmost limits.

Carol Birch's epic novel brings alive the smells, sights and flavours of the nineteenth century, from the docks of London to the storms of the Indian Ocean: a gripping exploration of our relationship to the natural world and the wildness it contains.

©2011 Carol Birch (P)2011 W F Howes Ltd

What members say

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  • Overall
  • Charles
  • 10-25-11

Disappointing

I was very much looking forward to listening to this book; based upon both its good reviews elsewhere and its shortlisting for the Booker Prize. Having done so I can confidently state both that it is well written with some very powerful scenes and also very well read. Unfortunately I didn't particularly enjoy it and the only reason I can suggest is that no matter how exciting or traumatic the adventures experienced by the narrator and his companions I felt oddly distant from the action. Perhaps this was because I found it difficult to empathise or identify with or even particularly like any of them. I appreciate that this is a purely personal reaction and others may fare better but I thought it worth mentioning in case you are thinking of spending a credit on the book.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Chris
  • 11-01-11

Not for me

I found some of the passages in this this book rather disturbing and suspect that many others will feel the same. It is difficult to warn people of exactly what themes are involved without 'spoiling' the storyline, suffice it to say that there are quite graphic descriptions of themes that many will find abhorrent. This is not to say that the book is not well written - it is. When the story rolls along, as it sometimes does, this is a good yarn well told. However, there are numerous pauses for description and philosophy which hold up the storytelling to the detriment of the whole. And it is this, rather than the disturbing scenes, that reduces my rating to three stars.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • william
  • 02-28-15

Beautiful prose.

Such magical story telling. I could visualize this book in my minds eye with great clarity and colour. You can taste the salt of the sea.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Skye
  • 10-29-12

Excellent narration of a very, very good book

This was a great choice to spend my credit on. Not especially fast-paced, still it gripped me all the way through, and a good part of the reason is the wonderful narration of Dave John... spot on!! For me the narrator is crucial to an audiobook. So many great stories I can't buy because I can't get on with the voice, but this one was perfect. The story is beautifully written too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Miss
  • 11-24-11

Lovely.

I loved this book. It's just so ... lovely. I'm not so sure of the ending ... but the beginning and the middle are so satisfying. It's a tale of the sea, of exotic ports and mythical creatures. I enjoyed it very much.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • JOHN W
  • 07-06-15

Classic Lovers Must Read

The tale of Jamrach's menagerie starts out like a classic novel in the style of Dickens, Trollope or Eliot and is a great coming of age tale of Jaffy Brown a nineteenth century street urchin as he journeys over the seven seas to become a man. Get lost, relax, rediscover youth in this awesome tale.