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Bizarre and fascinating
13 Feb 2013


The Elephant Keepers’ Children

Peter Hoeg

Harvill Secker

I ADMIT I have not read Peter Hoeg’s most celebrated novel — Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow — which may have put me at a disadvantage. This novel is strange. Not what I was expecting.

Konstantin and Clara Fino have disappeared. Again. Two years after their first disappearance, and their teenage children are determined to find them. This sets in motion a sequence of events that not only changes their lives, but thrusts them into a deep and interesting world of the unknown.

Hoeg’s characters are strange and unreal. If you are expecting a light and pithy read, then this is not for you. I had to put this book down at times to allow the ideas to sink in.

When the teens realise their parents have disappeared and they are to be taken into custody, they have to make a plan to use their own set of skills to escape this fate.

They soon realise that their parents were not as good as they seemed, as supposed religious leaders on the Danish island of Fino, as many of their religious miracles were in fact manufactured for financial gain.

The children believe their parents are deluded by false beliefs, which are driving their actions. Their efforts to find their parents are constantly thwarted by a bunch of eccentric adults who provide some amusement and irritation.

The novel is, quite frankly, bizarre and at the same time fascinating. The characters are all so strange they could all be in a cast of Ripley’s Believe it or Not. It is a book that I was relieved to finish.

Trish Beaver


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