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.
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.
What made the experience of listening to The Elephant Keeper the most enjoyable?
To hear all about how elephants came into the UK and how Tom managed to tame these elephants by hand with no experience what so ever.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Elephant Keeper?
When one of the elephants took a glass of alcohol off the table drank the contents and gave the glass back much to the astonishment of those stood around.
Which scene did you most enjoy?
When the boy fell off the elephant even though he had been warned by his parents not to even try and climb on the elephant let alone try and ride it.
Any additional comments?
To be enjoyed by any age group and either male or female I can definitely recommend it was thoroughly enjoyable.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?
difficult to say,
What could Christopher Nicholson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Not dragged it out
Would you listen to another book narrated by Roger May?
I don't know as he did his job well reading like a Somerset 18thc yokel, but how frustratingly boring
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
temper loss, kept saying to myself "just get on with it"
Any additional comments?
don't waste your time reading it
Bought it based on good reviews. Didn't particularly enjoy and found the story very strange from start to finish.
Thank you Chris. My hubby is a vet and I have always protected and loved having our earthly cousins about, even when my personal life was unsteady. I loved the story. Thank you for sharing. the ending was uplifting. I'm looking forward to your next book.
What a wonderful story with full of wisdom! I felt like I was Tom - his thoughts were like mine. And Jenny- what a beautiful soul! The narrator was fantastic. A timeless and a beautiful story. Highly recommended.
The story is set in the late 18th century and written from the perspective of Tom Page who, at a very young age takes on the care of two young elephants, close to death from their journey by sailing ship to this country. I do not rate Nicholson as a particularly talented author nor Roger May as the best choice of narrator although they both manage a credible performance. The story begins interesting and intriguing enough and I found the first two parts, though somewhat disturbing at times, an enjoyable read. However, the final part in which Tom Page's fortunes have taken a serious down turn, lapses further and further into a somewhat chaotic jumble of imaginings and ravings which were much less enjoyable but might have been more acceptable if the author could have come up with a suitable ending. As it was, the tale just seemed to peter out with a discourse on fantasy and reality - a disappointing and unsatisfactory end to what could have been a rather decent tale.