Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Elephant Awareness Month | The Elephant Keeper REVIEW

Sadly, August is coming to a close and with it, Elephant Awareness Month. :( However, I am very excited to share my review of The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson with you all! I really, really enjoyed this book. I was a little nervous about choosing a fictional story about elephants for my Elephant Awareness Month pick, but it turned out to be so wonderful - heartbreaking, but wonderful. I'm not going to spoil anything about this book in this review so if you're hoping to read it you can read this review safely!


The Elephant Keeper is about a stable boy named Tom. Set in the 1700s, Tom's rich employer buys two elephants in the exotic animal trade. Tom is charged with caring for these two elephants, despite the fact that no one in Europe has really studied these animals in any capacity. Throughout his time caring for these two elephants, he creates a history of elephants from his own observations and develops a magnificent relationship with both of these creatures.


This book, as I said, was wonderful, yet sometimes painful to read as an animal lover. As much as I hate to know that the exotic animal trade was as wide spread as it was for hundreds of years, it is needed to be recognized in order be invested in this story. And you do get very invested in this story and the characters that are in it (mainly, Tom and the two elephants which Tom names Timothy and Jenny). There are turns in this story that leave a sinking pit in your stomach and your heart in pieces (may or may not be tearing up just thinking about the story!) which really makes it a great story.

As a heads up - there is a scene involving sexual assault in this book and the repercussions of this assault are quite severe. I did not see this coming at all which was an interesting curve ball, but I believe it was handled well for the time period that it is set in.

The chapter structure of this book is a bit strange - the first third of this book is the History of the Elephant, and then the rest of the book is Tom's journal, which was a very strange choice, I thought. I think that if this book was structured a bit better it would have really enhanced an already great story, and it leaves me wondering about the true potential of this book overall. I think that the plot and story was enough to save the book despite its structure, but if other books were structured in a similar fashion I don't think they would do quite as well.

Overall, I thought this story was so lovely and was written in a language that I connected with easily but did not make me fall out of the time period it was set in. I think Nicholson did a really nice job with this book and I would love to hear what his process was in researching for it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a lover of animals, is interested in stories regarding the understanding of exotic (for the time period) animals, with sprinkles of the human story scattered throughout.


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