Diana G. (Elmhurst, IL)
The Elephant Keeper - two books in one
My reading of The Elephant Keeper found it to be two books in one. The first book is the story and the second book is the wonderful facts that are shared about elephants.
I did enjoy this book but felt misled by the cover. I was expecting a soft love story about an elephant keeper and his charges, which I found in the first half, but then the book took a turn to the dark when the lines in their relationships started to blur. Overall it was a good book told in an enjoyable narrative of the literal history of the elephant charges. I think if you enjoyed Modoc-The True Story of The Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived (my favorite elephant book), The Cowboy and His Elephant and/or When Elephants Weep, youll find this a fine addition to your elephant reading list.
Laura H. (Los Angeles, CA)
The Elephant Keeper
A fun, enjoyable light summer read - it's one of those books you could read in an afternoon. The main character and his animal companions are engaging and likable but many of the characters they interact with aren't fully fleshed out and come across as stereotypes. The writing is sometimes awkward as the author tries to get across the formality of 19th century speech and expressions.
What will keep you turning the pages is the well-structured plot and the fascinating elephant Jenny. If you love stories about the special connection between animals and the humans that really care about them, this is your book.
Joe S. (Murfreesboro,, TN)
The Elephant Keeper
I enjoyed this book very much. As a matter of fact, I started reading it the day I received it and couldn't put it down.It gives a very interesting picture of life in eighteenth century England and the lives of both the rich and their servants. The further into the book you get, the more it becomes apparent that it is a love story between a young man and an elephant. I highly recommend this book to reading groups.
Deb Y. (Blanco, TX)
Who would have thought a novel about elephants would be worth reading? Not I, she said. However, I have to admit I was wrong, very wrong. I am a sucker for stories told in the first person (this time by the elephant keeper, not the elephants - hence, the name of the book) and this one was lovely. It is a book definitely worth your time - and it certainly won't be any trouble.
Molly B. (Longmont, CO)
Good summer reading
This book is full of great information about the nature of elephants and humans, as well as life in 18th century England. Details about the care of elephants and horses in that era add to the interest of the story. The writing is as gentle as the souls of the two main characters, and the author subtly has the reader become a part of the connection between the two. The communication between elephant and boy is so natural and easy that I stopped in mid-book once, said to myself, "Wait, I'm not even questioning this?" and then continued reading with no doubt about it. I don't even think it was suspension of disbelief. By writing this book, Mr. Nicholson has done a great service to both elephants and readers.
Heather F. (Orlando, FL)
A Great Read
The Elephant Keeper is a wonderfully touching story that kept me rapt through the chapters. The relationship between Tom and the two elephants he cares for is portrayed very sensitively and with a great empathy that brings a real depth to the story. Although I did find the instances of elephant cruelty to be upsetting, overall. I found the story very well rounded. I enjoyed learning so much about the daily lives and habits of elephants, they are remarkable creatures that I have long been interested in. I also thought that the candid portrayal of eighteenth century life was rendered very well. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy animal stories and additionally to those who are searching for a great coming of age story.
Nancy E. (Whitehouse Station, NJ)
A Novel About Elephants
This novel is set in the second half of the 18th century and is about a young teenager becoming the caretaker of two elephants in England and follows his life with the elephants as the only person who had the skills to take care of these beautiful but strange animals which most people had never heard of much less seen at that time.
The first half to three quarters of the book is very interesting and detailed and rings true to what life would have been like during the time period. The last part of the book skims over the greater part of the caretaker's life and the story became much less interesting to me. I have been interested in elephants for a long time and have read extensively about their social structure. The author captures the behavior of the elephants very well and also what it was like for a young man to grow up interacting with them.
This book is a coming of age story at least at the beginning and should appeal to teenagers and adults who are interested in animals and animal behavior and how they interact with humans. The story is lovely in many ways and is well researched historically. I would recommend the book but with some reservations.