Literary Fiction

The Memory of an Elephant


This book will launch on May 17, 2021. Currently, only those with the link can see it. đź”’

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An emotional account of the life an old African elephant as he undertakes a mesmerising final journey home to find the friends of his youth.

The Memory of an Elephant is the highly emotional story of Ishi, a Bull Elephant coming to the end of his life, who decides to travel back to the plains of his birth in Kenya before he dies. I read most of it with a giant lump in my throat and defy anyone not to be moved by the story of this supremely intelligent majestic creature.

Told in a mixture of first elephant and third person narration, jumping back and forth from the 2012 present, to his birth in 1962, we learn how Ishi comes to lose his first clan, and be raised in an animal orphanage by Jean, the wife of white big game hunter Russell Hathaway, and a young Kikuyu boy destined to be his friend and guardian for life, Kamau. Once he’s old enough to leave, Ishi finds himself a new clan, beginning a life of adventures that will take him far away, from happiness and freedom amongst his own kind, but perpetually at risk from evil two-legged poachers and their “boomsticks”, to the misery of safety in the cold of the North, and how a lucky intervention gets him back home again. He never forgets his human family, and despite their own tragedies, Kamau and the Hathaways will be there again as he undertakes his greatest adventure.

This is a beautifully told epic story that brings the beauty and wild cruelty of Africa vividly to life. Unfortunately it also inevitably reminds us how humans don’t deserve this planet. From the callous game warden whose preferred solution to the problem of a rogue elephant on the move is a rifle, to the psychopathic poacher interested only in enriching himself by selling ivory, Ishi learns early that not all two-legs can be trusted - but that not all elephants are good and kind either. There’s a horrific scene early on that we know must be coming, but is nevertheless devastating, and Ishi’s confusion and anguish had me in tears. There are however sympathetic human characters as well who balance things out so it never becomes too depressing. Unfortunately animal stories almost always end sadly, but this one’s was bittersweet and necessary.

I read a free advance copy through the Reedsy Discovery programme which allowed me to provide an honest review.

Reviewed by

I’m English but have lived in NZ for 19 years.
I’ve always been a serious reader, and have been reviewing on GoodReads for years, but in the past few years have developed my reviewing through NetGalley and now Reedsy. I mostly read mysteries and thrillers, although enjoy other genres in between.


About the author

I was a Hollywood screenwriter for over 30 years, and as most everyone knows, it's a pretty thankless profession. You're well paid, but you have no artistic autonomy: they can do anything they want to your material. So I've finally made the transition to writing novels. What a difference. view profile

Published on March 22, 2021

Published by

70000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Literary Fiction

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