Reader reviews and comments on Jamrach's Menagerie, plus links to write your own review.

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Jamrach's Menagerie

A Novel

by Carol Birch

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2012, 304 pages

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There are currently 21 reader reviews for Jamrach's Menagerie
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Paula W. (Sarasota, FL)

A Truly Terrible Book
From the very first paragraph..."I was born twice. First in a wooden room...,and then again...in the Highway, when the tiger took me in his mouth...." - this novel was full of terrible and awful events.

Jaffey's adventures are terrifying and amazing , nothing like I have read before. This is wild, raw excitement - whaling,, shipwrecks, dragons - no description is too graphic for author Birch. I put the book down several times - but was compelled to return.

"Jamrach's Menagerie" is not for the faint of heart. But the narrative - so alive with winds, waves, horror - also has tender and poetic moments and characters who are very well drawn and worth the effort to get to know.
Sharon W. (Two Rivers, WI)

Jamarach's Menagerie
If you like mystery and suspense, you will definitely love this one. I wasn't so sure about it in the beginning, but it reeled me right in. Once it got me, it was hard to put down till I finished. From being almost eaten alive by a tiger to sailing on the seas. Friendships made and friendships gone. Very interesting. I will definitely be looking for more of Carol Birch's books.
Rosemary K. (Saginaw, MI)

Don't give up!
Carol Birch's Jamrach's Menagerie is not really my type of book at all. Following the adventures of a street urchin who gets involved with exotic animals and goes to sea does not pique my curiosity.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on and slowly, gradually, the author won me over. The agonies endured at sea placed me squarely out there with the struggling boys and men. I suffered through the ghastly decisions they had to make; I thirsted for the small amounts of water they were allowed to drink.

So, instead of putting the book in a donation box, it's in my bookcase, right where it belongs: with other wonderfully-told books of challenges at sea.
Alison W. (Woodinville, Washington)

Jamrach's Menagerie
I fully enjoyed Jamrach's Menagerie. It is a wonderful book written in beautiful, lyrical prose. It's a compelling story that has everything: love, deep friendship, and thrilling adventure. Ms. Birch has the rare ability to make the reader feel as if they are experiencing what her characters are... which is not always a good thing. The reader can smell the sea and taste the salt.

I found it to be a delicious and satisfying read.. it left me hungering for more.
Elizabeth K. (Dallas, TX)

Jamrach's Menagerie - A Timeless Slice of Life
This book captured me from the very first line - "I was born twice." From the first scenes in the slums of London to the long journey on the high seas, I cared about Jaffy Brown and his fate. Some books are hard to read in the beginning and become easier as you go along, but Jamrach's Menagerie is the opposite. The grim chapters with Jaffy and his fellow survivors lost at sea were difficult to read, but I had to know what happened and how he came to terms with the tragedies he survived. The book is about life, love, friendship, journeys, life at sea, survival, caring for animals, and coming to terms with tragedy and death, all told against the backdrop of 19th century life. Carol Birch is an amazing writer, not merely a talented one - she's a GREAT contemporary writer - and Jamrach's Menagerie is a book that you really MUST read.
Sherrill B. (Columbia City, In.)

jamrachs menangarie
8 yr old Jaffy is rescued from a Bengal tiger owned by Jamrach. Jaffy is hired to take care of Jamrach's animals and birds, along with another animal handler a boy named Tim. They have many adventures including a sea voyage. The book is full of tension, friendship, sacrifice and survival. I liked it.
Linda W. (Riverview, Florida)

This is a must read
I love love love this book! I was hooked after the first chapter. This is a must read for everyone.The story of a small boy who is excited about a life of adventure. A journey on the sea! Adventure turns to darkness...
Magaret (Brookfield, VT)

Jamrach's Menagerie
Told in the first-person, Jaffy Brown's story is of a life filled with wonder, exquisite joy, unbridled excitement, terror, brutal horror, survival, great sadness, love, and acceptance. I found myself totally and unabashedly absorbed in his nineteenth century world.

The teen-aged seafaring Jaffy laments that he will "never be able to describe all this, the way it felt". Not to worry … Carol Birch simply provides the most wonderful imagery you can possibly, well, imagine. Her descriptive narrative is vivid enough to have made my mouth water as an eight year old Jaffy tastes his first raspberry puff, to have made said mouth run dry during his on-sea adventures, and to have tears running down my cheeks when he struggles with the horror of choosing life or death.

I am enthused enough about the writing that I have ordered two earlier titles by Ms. Birch. She's that good.
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