Title: The Elephant Keeper
Author: Christopher Nicholson
Publication: August 2009 by William Morrow & Company
Genre: Historical Fiction
“The Elephant Keeper, the story of Tom and the elephants, in Tom's own words, moves from the green fields and woods of the English countryside to the dark streets and alleys of late-eighteenth-century London, reflecting both the beauty and the violence of the age. Nicholson's lush writing and deft storytelling complement a captivating tale of love and loyalty between one man and the two elephants that change the lives of all who meet them.”
The Elephant Keeper is a novel that I am not quite sure what to say about. I picked up this book because elephants are one of my favorite animals, and so I thought I would give it a shot.
Throughout the first maybe half of the novel, it is a lovely story about well, an Elephant Keeper and his two elephants. Tom Page, The Elephant Keeper, is in charge of the two elephants rescued by his lordship. Naming them Timothy and Jenny, Tom develops a deep bond with both of them. The Elephants grow up to be both loved and feared throughout the town, but during the first part of the novel, their fascinating character definitely shines through to the reader. I loved the interesting stories about the Elephants and learning so much about them; it was a nice, light read for a rainy day.
However, throughout the second part of the novel, I can’t say quite the same thing. The second part seemed like the author was tired of the cute, elephant story and wanted to change things up a bit. Tom Page leaves his family to follow the elephant Jenny, while the elephant Timothy is sold to another buyer. For me, this part of the novel started to drag. I wanted to finish the book, but I admit I skimmed over a few sections. In the second half, Tom’s character also starts to change. At the beginning, you saw an animal-loving, caring protagonist who treated the elephants kindly with love. Although this aspect did not change, Tom starts to make choices that I personally disapprove of. I won’t include any spoilers, but some of the events in the second half of this novel are just weird.
The ending of the novel leaves you hanging. It is gives you two scenarios, and either one of them could have happened. You choose what you want to believe. In my opinion, I thought the ending was different but not in a bad way. I liked that the author gave you a chance to walk down each path Tom and Jenny could have taken.
In conclusion, if you are the kind of person who takes the good with the bad, I do suggest you read The Elephant Keeper. The beginning of the novel is cute and endearing, and I really enjoyed learning about Jenny and Timothy. However, if you are not so much of that kind of person, maybe you should skip over The Elephant Keeper for now.