The Elephant of Belfast; S. Kirk Walsh
Blackstone Audio - 2021 - Library Loan
Narrator - Charlotte McCurry - very good
(10 hours - 51 min.)
Hettie Quin is a 26 year old zookeeper at the Bellevue zoo in Belfast, Northern Ireland - the years are (1940-1941). Hettie is a young woman who has always felt more comfortable with animals than people. Her home life is not a happy. Hettie's sister died in childbirth and her father, a man who drinks too much and seeks out other women has moved out. Her mother lives in a perpetual state of melancholy now. It also doesn't help that the year is 1940 and everyone in Belfast feels the escalating tension between British loyalists and the Irish Republican army.
When Violet, a 3 year old Indian elephant arrives at the zoo from Ceylon, Hettie and Violet develop a special bond and a growing dependance on one another especially as Germany begins a blitz on Belfast. In the process Hettie's mom also goes missing.
Based on the true story of Denise Austin and a baby elephant named Sheila, The Elephant of Belfast reminded me (in a less intense kind of way) of The Zookeeper's Wife, a book and movie which I really enjoyed. As a life long animal lover, I never really considered the impact of war on animals until reading these kinds of stories. Although this book wasn't perfect, I enjoyed it a lot and thought it was a mostly heartwarming story that reminds us how love and having a purpose can give us hope in difficult times. I was happy I had a chance to try this audio.
Rating - 4/5 stars