Alex Stone is an artist, inventor, poet and award-winning writer. His extraordinary literary debut novel is written from the point of view of three Indian elephants, who are on a march to the fabled land of Abyssinia. There is also Hannibal Solo, who is their African acquaintance, who thought he had retired, but there are surprises in store.
Of the three elephants, Pulmulla is concerned that her vision for the future will prove to come true. Biligirl is in love and will be a father in 22 months and all he wants to do is go home. Meanwhile, Tant-Meisie is lonely, despite all the famous and eccentric people she meets along their long odyssey.
This is a lyrical and poignant read as we follow the story of these central elephants (and many other elephants) in an original story that goes from the late 19th century to the present decade. Whether in Kentucky or the Belgian Congo, the landscape is vivid, and the events are dramatic, daring and humorous by turn, as the elephants march towards siege and uncertainty.
The novel has grown out of an award-winning short story that has been highly praised. And grown it certainly has! Taken is a doorstop of a book with more than 600 pages. And you will want to savour each page – there are many moments of brilliance – so it is not a quick read by any stretch. But it’s a rewarding read, and on each page, you can see how much research the author has done on this topic and how much he cares about animal welfare.
The most compelling part of this novel? The voices of the elephants, with their distinctive tone and cadence. Taken is an epic novel and a saga of these wonderful creatures that you won’t forget. It is also visually appealing with illustrations and photographs enhancing the text. It will be interesting to see what this accomplished author chooses to produce next.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan