"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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"[A] charming first novel, told in Tom's tender, somewhat melancholic voice .... Throughout, Nicholson, with a light hand, explores questions of how and why we make choices, and contrasts our attitudes to life with that of animals." - The Independent (UK)
"Like the elephant at its centre, Nicholson's book is gentle, profound and sweet-natured." - The Guardian (UK)
"This is a wonderful feat of story-telling, remarkable for its ability to wrench your heart without resorting to easy sentimentality." - The Daily Mail (UK)
"Elephants may never forget, but Jenny, the elephant heroine at the heart of this tender novel, is simply unforgettable." - The Courier Mail
".... the elephant's legendary ability to 'never forget' is finally ours." - Publishers Weekly
"The 18th-century diction is convincing, but too much elephant lore, though engrossing in its own right, slows the pace." - Kirkus Reviews
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Christopher Nicholson read English at Cambridge University. He has been a community development worker in Cornwall, and a radio scriptwriter and producer in London. He lives in Dorset. A reading guide for the book is available here.
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