Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Book of the Week - Christopher Nicholson, The Elephant Keeper

As it gets near the end of the year, the number of interesting new novels begins to dwindle, so for the next couple of weeks I will look back to a few books I missed earlier in the year. The Elephant Keeper is a second novel from Christopher Nicholson, which was published back in February. It has just been shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year (although I hope this will be a win for Brooklyn, also the Sunday Times novel of the year). The Elephant Keeper was published in hardcover by Fourth Estate, and deserves to do well.

"I asked the sailor what an Elephant looked like; he replied that it was like nothing on earth. 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. As the years pass, and as they journey across England, his relationship with the female elephant deepens in a startling manner. Along the way they meet incredulity, distrust and tragedy, and it is only their understanding of each other that keeps them together. Christopher Nicholson's charming and captivating novel explores notions of sexuality and violence, freedom and captivity, and the nature of story-telling -- but most of all it is the study of a profound and remarkable love between an elephant and a human being."

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