An Inconvenient Elephant: A Novel

( 4 )

Overview

From the author of Still Life with Elephant comes the story of one woman and her quest to save a majestic animal.

After a year spent caring for baby elephants in Africa, Neelie Sterling is preparing to return to the States and a life filled with exes—ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, ex-house, ex-horse. But she is leaving behind some unfinished business in Zimbabwe: a very special elephant targeted for execution. With the help of her new friend Diamond-Rose Tremaine, an eccentric ...

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An Inconvenient Elephant: A Novel

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Overview

From the author of Still Life with Elephant comes the story of one woman and her quest to save a majestic animal.

After a year spent caring for baby elephants in Africa, Neelie Sterling is preparing to return to the States and a life filled with exes—ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, ex-house, ex-horse. But she is leaving behind some unfinished business in Zimbabwe: a very special elephant targeted for execution. With the help of her new friend Diamond-Rose Tremaine, an eccentric safari operator, Neelie manages to buy some time for the imperiled pachyderm, knowing that when she lands in New York they'll need to raise funds for his rescue.

Once they're home, everything becomes a struggle. Neelie and Diamond-Rose now must relearn how to survive in an urban jungle of table manners and real beds while coping with the overbearing affections of Neelie's family. Harder still, Neelie desperately needs the help of her wealthy conservationist ex-boyfriend, Tom, to save the magnificent creature—and swallowing her pride just might be the biggest challenge of all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this big-hearted sequel, Singer (Still Life with Elephant) channels her compassion for animals through strong-willed Neelie Sterling, who's attempting to return to New York City after a year among baby elephants in the Kenyan jungle, cut short by war. When booking a seat on a plane back to New York seems impossible, she meets safari leader Diamond-Rose Tremaine, who finagles them a flight to America by way of Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the stopover leaves the pair stranded in Zimbabwe, where they make their way to a jungle encampment run by Diamond's friends. Once there, Neelie befriends the campsite's condemned food-stealing elephant, Tusker, making it her mission to save him from execution and bring him back to the New York animal sanctuary run by her ex-boyfriend, Tom. While the possibility of rekindled romance tugs at both Neelie and Tom, matters of the human heart take a back seat to Neelie's attempt to save Tusker, which proves a reeling, contagious story of hope and inter-species empathy. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews

The sequel to Singer's Still Life with Elephant (2007)follows our heroine home from a year in Africa, only to discover that home may simply be where the elephants are.

After breaking up with Tom Pennington, the millionaire animal activist who won her heart in the first novel, Neelie spends a year at a reserve in Kenya nurturing baby elephants. As she readies to return to New York, political strife in Kenya changes everything. Stranded at the airport she meets safari guide Diamond-Rose Tremaine, who manages to get the two of them to Zimbabwe, where Neelie falls hopelessly in love with an elephant the camp calls Tusker. His bad behavior has him targeted for execution, and she becomes determined to save him. In exchange for $35,000 to a corrupt official, Neelie and Diamond have three months to find Tusker a safe haven. The two make it back to New York, but both feel the constriction of suburban America. Neelie misses the baby elephants, and Diamond can't wash the bush out of her soul. She rarely bathes, eats most meals with her knife, answers questions with Swahili proverbs and prefers sleeping on the floor to the challenge of untangling sheets. At the New York animal sanctuary where Neelie and Diamond work, its founder Mrs. Wycliff is faltering from dementia (but the funny, charming kind!) and is now on permanent safari. Tom saves the place and Neelie is convinced he's the only one who can save Tusker, but he refuses. Is it out of spite? What are his secret plans for the sanctuary? Will Tom and Neelie reunite? The novel's finale ignites romance between Tom and Neelie and between Diamond and Jungle Johnny, a children's-show conservationist. All's well that ends well, but for the odd chords the novel strikes—from slapstick comedy (including a cursing parrot), to the seriousness of animal poaching and corruption in Africa, to the fairly predictable romantic mix-ups between Tom and Neelie.

Animal-loving romantics will forgive the uneven tone.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061713774
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/27/2010
  • Pages: 388
  • Sales rank: 849,586
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Judy Reene Singer is a dressage competitor, horse trainer, and all-around animal lover. She has written about the equestrian world for more than a decade and was named top feature writer of the year by The Chronicle of the Horse. She is the author of Horseplay and Still Life with Elephant.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 18, 2010

    What a great book. A must read.

    I fell in love with this book from the first page. I read a lot and this will go as one of my favorites. I hope this becomes a movie.

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  • Posted August 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A touching tale about elephants

    An Inconvenient Elephant is a touching tale about discovering one's self and the importance of family. Ideally the use of elephants as the central figures in the story was also used to emphasis this theme since elephants are phratric animals and their units are developed in unconventional ways. Similarly, the main characters formed these family units emphasizing the notion that family does not necessarily mean blood related. Other themes that rose from the story were the modern debate about rehabilitation of animals and striking a balance between your professional goals and the goals that are set for you by society. The latter theme is more prevalent among women in this decade who seek to fulfill their career dreams and strive for independence as oppose to starting a family. All of the themes were integrated into the story very well and made it a real joy to read.

    The story is also lightly coloured with humor which contributed to its 'unputdownable' factor. There were many times when I found myself laughing out loud at Diamond teaching a Cockatoo to swear or the lovable but seriously neurotic Mrs. Wycliff. The humor is very witty and grown-up but relevant and totally unexpected which made me enjoy the story even more. An Inconvenient Elephant was also touching because you got a first-hand view into the perils that wild animals face and how these animals are rescued. I certainly became more appreciative of all the work done by animal activist around the world.

    Many of the reviews that I have read so far state that the plot was a bit obvious but I have to disagree. Perhaps I wasn't paying much attention but I found that there was an element of uncertainty to the story especially when it came to rescuing the elephants. I also appreciated the linguistic artistry in many of the chapters by the author. Often times she started them with literal devices and then meshes them with the overall story and plot. I think that by employing this tactic, the author gave us another level in which to understand the difficulties that the characters were facing and it sort of forces you to think about how you would cope if you were in a similar situation.

    The characters were like a mixed bag of nuts if you look at them closely. Neelie, the Jane Goodall of Elephants is a nice character though sometimes I found that she was a bit erratic and just too sensitive. She is the main character who ironically is learning some of life's most important lesson from elephants. Diamond was a great character to get to know. She draws a constant reference to her life in Africa which shows up the rich culture that exists there. One might argue that there were some characters who were a bit stereotypical such as Jungle Jim ( a representation of many of the male animal activist we see on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel) yet there presence in the story was really overshadowed by the animals and their daring rescue.

    Animal lovers and non-animals lovers will enjoy this story because of its overall themes, good plot and storyline and its wit and humor. And I look forward to hearing more from Judy Reene Singer.

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  • Posted July 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Charming Book

    Disclaimer: I got this book as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) for free
    <br />
    An Inconvenient Elephant by Judy Reene Singer a fictional story is about Neelie Sterling, an American who has spent a year in Africa taking care of baby elephants and, due to the volatile political climate in Africa, is forced to come back home. Only that "home" is filled with past skeletons of ex-husband, ex-house, ex-horse, etc. On her way she meets Diamond-Rose, who is not a stripper as her name might suggest, but a 20 year veteran safari tour guide who is also being forcefully evacuated. Along the way, the ladies get enamored by an elephant targeted for execution and, once back in the US, make it their mission to save him.
    <br />
    As many of us who have been absent from home for a long amount of time know, returning is a struggle. The mundane becomes the norm, the adventure subsides and you almost have to re-learn how to cope with life. Neelie and Diamond-Rose find work in an animal sanctuary and immediately start working on their new mission of saving another elephant as well as other animals. Their mission is made all that difficult by their lack of social graces and Neelie's pigheadedness.
    <br />
    This is a charming book; a quick read with likable characters even thought the plot is quite predictable and somewhat unbelievable. The narrative is entertaining, enjoyable and easy to follow The author, who seems to be very knowledgeable about animals (even though one gets the impression she is more of a horse lover) doesn't try to ram any wildlife agenda down the reader's throat or force a tearjerker - she just let's the story roll along. Peppered with quirky, silly, purposefully lame and yes, funny jokes the book is never boring.
    <br />
    This book is suppose to be a sequel to "Still Life with Elephant" which I haven't read, and I haven't noticed I was reading a sequel - so you can still read "An Inconvenient Elephant" independently of the first book.
    <br />
    For more reviews please visit www.ManOfLaBook.com

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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