Saturday, July 26, 2014

#82 : The Elephants' Choice by M L Eaton : A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Elephant’s Choice
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji & Shree Janani Sundararajan
          The author sent us both TWO copies because this story has a special back story (see end of Review for that!)
          Reminiscent of ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, at times sad and poignant but always enthralling and exhilarating, this is a story that captures the wonders of India as seen through the eyes and imagination of a young English girl.
          Although this story is written with adult readers in mind, it is also suitable for children.
          It is 1954 and Melanie is six years old.
          With her parents, she moves to Bombay, (now Mumbai) India, where her father has been posted to undertake a Civil Engineering project. Lonely, anxious and unsettled, she finds it difficult to find her place in a country so different from England.
          But before long, entranced by the emotive beauty of her surroundings, she unexpectedly wins the trust and affection of a young elephant and her loneliness is banished.
          How accurate in your description can you be if you are describing events that happened when you were six years old?
          How very descriptive can your words be to make even native people of the country you were describing begin to see their country in a new light?
          How clear can your visuals be in defining one of the largest mammals that is not a part of your country?
          If you read this book, you will find out the most accurate, descriptive and clear accounts ever written about life in India in the 1950s. M L Eaton, not native to India, manages to talk about both India and Elephants with such finesse. She talks about the state of India immediately after partition. The narrative is in the form of a memoir. It is written from the eyes of Melanie, a six year old girl.
          Daughter of a British Officer, Melanie makes a move from Karachi to Bombay. She had grown up in England hearing stories about an elephant in England. Once in Bombay, Melanie sees the majestic elephant and immediately takes a liking to it. Along with her able nanny Lakshmi, Melanie visits the local park everyday and befriends Nelly an elephant. How big a role the elephants play in Melanie’s growing up and how well she communicates with their elephants forms the rest of the story.
          The language is trademark Eaton style, brilliant, very descriptive and literally takes you to the scene. The memoir style of writing is poignant and beautiful. The story is enjoyable both to native Indian and non – Indian readers. The characters are simple and deeply etched in memory. The story can be read by children and adults alike, and the cover design is pleasing and brings out the essence of the story.
          Read this story if you enjoy descriptive language and stories which do not touch upon obscure topics like romance, crime and the sensational. It is like a gentle lullaby and leaves you with a sweet after taste. Go for it!
          This story holds a special meaning for both of us from Readers’ Muse because, it was, actually, a small conversation between us and the author that started this. In the author’s own words, a picture sent by Janani, of a majestic temple elephant walking down a busy street was what triggered the author’s memories of elephants and India in the 1950s.
          This book also happens to have our names in the dedication page and we take this opportunity to offer our humble thanks to the author for her magnanimous gesture. Thank You Marion, from both of us!
          Retired from legal practice and semi-retired from holistic therapy - although she still teaches Reiki and other workshops - Marion lives close to the sea in the beautiful East Sussex countryside with a long-suffering husband, a lazy saluki and an urge to write into the small hours.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Digital
PRICE: Rs. 99 for Kindle Edition


1 comment:

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