Summary: Lizzie’s mother “Mutti” works at the zoo in Dresden, Germany. She becomes attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene (after the actress Marlene Dietrich). Fearing for the young elephant’s life during the war, Mutti persuades the zoo director to allow Marlene to stay in the family’s garden. The bombing of Dresden in 1945 then forces Mutti, Lizzie, and her little brother Karli to flee the city, but they do not leave without Marlene.
Thoughts: As friends or followers might now, I love elephants; so it’s no surprise that I was drawn to this novel. I was not disappointed. Inspired by true events, An Elephant in the Garden is a mesmerizing historical tale that shows the different sides and sorrows of war as well as the power of the human spirit to prevail. The novel’s tight writing and quick pace make it very readable and interesting. Fellow animal lover, author Michael Morpurgo offers a different type of war story by bringing together history, courageous victims, and an admiration for animals and their ability to soothe the wounded soul.
Read An Elephant in the Garden if you:
- enjoyed War Horse or any of Michael Morpurgo’s previous novels
- are a history buff
- like novels about WWII
- (are like me and) love elephants! The author says they are “the noblest and wisest and most sensitive of all creatures.”:)