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.
Reviews of The Elephant Keeper
- ‘Captivatingly original…a wonderful feat of story-telling, remarkable for its ability to wrench your heart without resorting to sentimentality.’ Daily Mail
- ‘“The Elephant Keeper” evokes 18th-century village and estate life beautifully, and is stuffed with fascinating data from medical and veterinary history.’ Independent
- ‘Charming and courageous’ Sunday Express
- ‘This charming first novel, told in Tom’s tender, somewhat melancholic voice, is an account of this unusual relationship.’ Independent on Sunday
- ‘Like the elephant at its centre, Nicholson’s book is gentle, profound and sweet-natured.’ Observer
- ‘A pleasingly ambling tale’ FT