Elephant of Belfast
by Walsh, S. Kirk






Inspired by a largely forgotten chapter of World War II, and highlighting the indelible, singular bond between mankind and animals during times of crisis, this moving story follows 21-year-old zookeeper Hettie Quin as she is compelled to protect an orphaned elephant through the German blitz of Belfast.





S. Kirk Walsh is a writer living in Austin, Texas. Her work has been widely published in The New York Times Book Review, Longreads, StoryQuarterly, and Electric Literature, among other publications. Over the years, she has been a resident at Ucross, Yaddo, Ragdale, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Walsh is the founder of Austin Bat Cave, a writing and tutoring center that provides free writing workshops for young writers throughout Austin.





Still grieving the tragic death of her sister and her father's abandonment of her, Hettie Quin embraces her job at the Bellevue Zoo in 1940. With the war going on, Hettie is soon promoted to a full-time zookeeper-the first female to hold the job. While Hettie loves all the animals, her favorite is Violet, a recently arrived three-year-old elephant. Their bond is so strong that when the air-raid sirens go off, Hettie runs to the zoo instead of a bomb shelter. As the devastating German attacks continue, Hettie must decide how much she is willing to risk to protect Violet. Inspired by the true story of the "elephant angel" of Belfast, Walsh's debut is a stirring tale of grief, loss, and survival against the chaotic backdrop of the war and the IRA's actions. The unique setting of Belfast during WWII makes this book stand out, though Hettie's romantic entanglements threaten to make the very intelligent heroine seem foolish and vapid. Overall, fans of WWII fiction and historical fiction will enjoy this fresh take on the era, and it is recommended for all collections. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





Still grieving the tragic death of her sister and her father's abandonment of her, Hettie Quin embraces her job at the Bellevue Zoo in 1940. With the war going on, Hettie is soon promoted to a full-time zookeeper-the first female to hold the job. While Hettie loves all the animals, her favorite is Violet, a recently arrived three-year-old elephant. Their bond is so strong that when the air-raid sirens go off, Hettie runs to the zoo instead of a bomb shelter. As the devastating German attacks continue, Hettie must decide how much she is willing to risk to protect Violet. Inspired by the true story of the "elephant angel" of Belfast, Walsh's debut is a stirring tale of grief, loss, and survival against the chaotic backdrop of the war and the IRA's actions. The unique setting of Belfast during WWII makes this book stand out, though Hettie's romantic entanglements threaten to make the very intelligent heroine seem foolish and vapid. Overall, fans of WWII fiction and historical fiction will enjoy this fresh take on the era, and it is recommended for all collections. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





A determined zookeeper in Northern Ireland protects a young elephant during World War II. Walsh‚??s novel is inspired by the true story of Denise Austin, a Northern Irish zookeeper who hid an elephant in her house during the 1941 bombing of Belfast by German Luftwaffe forces. The concept sounds whimsical, but this is not a light or frivolous novel. Ambitious zoo assistant Hettie Quin is young, but she has already suffered too much tragedy. Her father abandoned his family for another woman, leaving her mother distraught and depressed. Hettie‚??s beloved sister, Anna, recently died in childbirth, and their mother wants nothing to do with Anna‚??s Catholic widower or their child. Hettie‚??s part-time job at the zoo pays little, and life during wartime is hard. Into this emotional vacuum swings Violet, a young elephant Hettie first sees hoisted from the hold of a ship. She‚??s enchanted with the animal but isn‚??t allowed to care for her until Violet‚??s caretaker enlists. As their bond grows, rumors fly that Germans plan to bomb the city while IRA supporters align themselves with the Germans, gleeful over attacks on London. Walsh delivers a turbulent portrait of life in a divided city, and she wisely steers away from anthropomorphism. The animals, especially Violet, are real, messy, unpredictable creatures who don‚??t behave as their caretakers might like. As Walsh sets the stage for the bombing, though, sometimes the novel feels padded out, with interludes that don‚??t add up to much. On occasion Hettie‚??s behavior feels too impulsive and unlikely, robbing her of any common sense. Still, Walsh offers a unique perspective of a country at war and the lengths people will go for those they love. A fresh perspective on painful losses during wartime. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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