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The Elephant’s Journey

Narrated by: Christine Williams
Length: 5 hrs and 55 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A delightful, witty tale of friendship and adventure from prize-winning novelist Jose Saramago.

In 1551, King Joo III of Portugal gave Archduke Maximilian an unusual wedding present: an elephant named Solomon. In Jose Saramago's remarkable and imaginative retelling, Solomon and his keeper, Subhro, begin in dismal conditions, forgotten in a corner of the palace grounds.

When it occurs to the king and queen that an elephant would be an appropriate wedding gift, everyone rushes to get them ready: Subhro is given two new suits of clothes and Solomon a long overdue scrub. Accompanied by the Archduke, his new wife, and the royal guard, these unlikely heroes traverse a continent riven by the Reformation and civil wars, witnessed along the way by scholars, historians, and wide-eyed ordinary people as they make their way through the storied cities of northern Italy; they brave the Alps and the terrifying Isarco and Brenner Passes; across the Mediterranean Sea and up the Inn River; and at last, toward their grand entry into the imperial city.

©2008 Jose Saramago (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"It would be hard to more highly recommend a novel to be downed in a single draft…Simply, this books flows, and keeps on flowing." ( The New York Times)
"His most optimistic, playful, humorous and magical book, a grace note written near the end of his life...The Elephant's Journey is a tale rich in irony and empathy, regularly interrupted by witty reflections on human nature and arch commentary on the powerful who insult human dignity." ( Los Angeles Times)
"A picaresque romp that gleefully skewers the benighted souls clinging to outmoded worldviews while breathtaking new realities unfold right in front of them." ( Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
What members say
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Historically meh

Sure an elephant did some travelling, but was there any reason to write such a remedial book about it. Elementary school quality. Inaccurate locations such as Genoa in Italy in 1600’s. If it wasn’t for the book club I would have given up by the first 30 minutes. The written book is even worse; run on sentences and no paragraphs??? Did they think they would make a mediocre story better by making it harder to read. I think the author must have spent a full two hours of research on this book.

What a waste of five hours

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  • Bibliophile1963
  • 2017-01-17

Very Portuguese

There's something quintessentially Portuguese about this novel. It's something about the gentle humor, the deep wisdom, the kind acceptance of human nature. There's also a sense of absurd frivolity, rather like some of Lisbon's fanciful architecture. Somehow the author manages to write with bold childlike innocence and the wisdom of the ages. What's more amazing is that he did so while telling of a true historical event. It left me in tears but also in touch with my inner child.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dan Manweiler
  • 2019-09-25

The Elelhant's Journey

Nice to follow a story from so long ago. Nice that it was a simple plot and beautifully adorned in prose

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Robin Wardle
  • 2016-07-31

Delightful Tale

The Elephant's Journey is fascinating, humorous, and quite enjoyable. I particularly liked the reader's interpretation.

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  • JanBreesmom
  • 2012-08-04

Clever story grows weary

What disappointed you about The Elephant’s Journey?

It was a clever and humorous story at the beginning but dragged down as it went along.

Has The Elephant’s Journey turned you off from other books in this genre?

No.

Did Christine Williams do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Her narration was adequate.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment. I had high expectations for this book.

Any additional comments?

It was a 'trip of fools'.