Read advance reader review of Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch, page 3 of 3

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Jamrach's Menagerie

A Novel

by Carol Birch

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch X
Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2011, 304 pages

    Jun 2012, 304 pages


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There are currently 21 member reviews
for Jamrach's Menagerie
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  • Vivian H. (Winchester, VA)
    Jamrach's Menagerie~Darwinian themes throughout
    The beautifully lyrical imagery of the prose in Jamrach’s Menagerie draws the reader into the 19th Century world of those who collect of exotic species, of sea adventure and misadventure, of friendship and camaraderie, of the wonder and awe of nature, of the nature of man and beast and the Darwinian theory of survival of the fittest. This well researched story takes place in the waning years of whale fishing and vividly describes the treacherous hunt and kill of the whale followed by the harvesting and processing of the blubber and oil which left the ship and its mates covered in blood and gore and caked with the salt from the sea air. This excursion also includes a special commission to capture a mythical dragon believed to live in the islands of Indonesia.
    Despite the beautiful writing, parts of this book were difficult for me to read and I cannot say I really liked the story ~ a melding of “Moby Dick” and “The Donner Party” written by Dickens.
  • Linda C. (Carlisle, MA)
    Jamrach's Menagerie
    I fell deeply into an adventure that began with Jaffy Brown being rescued from the terrifying jaws of a tiger as it escaped down a London street. From here I was immersed deeper and deeper into a tale that was both magically engaging and outlandishly unbelievable. Birch has a way with words that transported me into this journey in a way that caused me to see very strange sights, smell a wide range of odors both good and bad, hear sounds foreign to my ears, and taste unimaginable horror. But underneath the intense experience was a powerful story of love and friendship. If you liked "The Life of Pi", this book might draw you in as well!
  • Shirley D. (Amherst, MA)
    Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
    For one interested in the 19th century, in the business of selling wild animals and birds and in the whaling industry, this is a treasure.. For one who can distinguish and accept the reality closely interwoven with fantasy, it is a must. The reader who pays close attention to Birch’s marvelous word pictures, will feel the swell of the sea, hear the scream of the sea birds, smell the stink of the vomit and shudder at the butchering of the whale. A masterful piece of writing, but one that I would recommend only to those I knew had a mature imagination. It is not a fairy tale for children.
  • Mark O. (Wenatchee, WA)
    Surviving Life
    Jamrach’s Menagerie is a legitimate heir of Dickens. Jaffee Brown, a young boy, is growing up in a squalid part of Victorian London, where children have early-onset adulthood. The weird luck of being carried about in the jaws of an escaped tiger leads to a job at the exotic animal emporium of the book’s title and a berth on a whaling ship. The real quest of the voyage is to capture a then-rumored, now zoo-housed beast.

    This is a book of the senses. We hear, taste, feel, and especially smell Jaffee’s unpasteurized life. This is certainly a coming-of-age story but the growing-up is via the fast-track of gruesome ordeal. The book might carry a warning label for squeamish readers.

    We could learn from this book that getting through the hardest bits of life might be luck or grace. Either way, the job of a survivor is to create sanctuary.
  • Elinor S. (Naples, FL)
    Jamrach's Menagerie
    I felt that the book was very realistic (in spite of the dragon). Descriptively, so realistic, it made me uncomfortable. I like to learn from a book. I felt my knowledge of sailing in the 19 century was increased, however the later subject matter (cannibalism) made me sick. I'm not sure to what audience this would appeal.
  • Debra P. (Belmont, NC)
    Adventure and Fantasy
    Reminds me a little bit of a J.K. Rowling and Dickens book. The story is interesting, centered around a "street urchin" and his rival/friend and their adventures. I believe there are some interesting lessons given on friendship and survival. Well written and a good read.
  • Bea C. (Liberty Lake, WA)
    Sea Sickness
    While the writing was great, very descriptive and made me feel like I was there, it is something I don't want to relive. The first half of the book was a wonderfully adventurous sea voyage, but I can't recommend this book to anyone I can think of since it is too unsettling and too detailed. I finished it a few hours ago and I am still sad, thirsty and feel dehydrated, but have no appetite. I wish it had ended differently.
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