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The Elephant Keepers' Children [Hardcover]

Peter Høeg , Martin Aitken
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: £17.99
Price: £14.64 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

20 Sep 2012

Peter and Tilte are trying to track down two notorious criminals: their parents. They are the pastor and the organist, respectively, of the only church on the tiny island of Finø. Known for fabricating cheap miracles to strengthen their congregation's faith, they have been in trouble before. But this time their children suspect they are up to mischief on a far greater scale.

When Peter and Tilte learn that scientific and religious leaders from around the world are assembling in Copenhagen for a conference, they know their parents are up to something. Peter and Tilte's quest to find them exposes conspiracies, terrorist plots, an angry bishop, a deranged headmaster, two love-struck police officers, a deluded aristocrat and much more along the way.

Part adventure story, part study of human nature, The Elephant Keepers' Children is a delightful and thought-provoking novel from the prizewinning Danish author Peter Høeg.

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The Elephant Keepers' Children + The Quiet Girl
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (20 Sep 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846555841
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846555848
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 314,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This is a strange, beguiling novel, which combines madcap adventure with reflections on trust, affection and individual spiritual life" (Express)

"Hugely enjoyable.both moving and oddly profound" (Harry Ritchie Daily Mail)

"Peter Høeg displays a glorious facility for the absurd as well as the picaresque, and the hilarity of Peter Finø's narrative makes this a delightful novel" (Sarah Moss Guardian)

"Høeg's sense of humour is wonderful, and his Homeric laughter unfolds over the madhouse that he constructs" (Politiken)

"The Elephant Keepers' Children is, on its own terms, a serene and cheerful and beautifully constructed has just that extra nudge of extravagant, humorous implausibility which undeniably removes it from realism" (Berlingske Tidende)

Book Description

What would you do if your parents were con artists?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Danish author Peter Hoeg's latest novel is a farcical, picaresque story of chase and escapes in which the fourteen-year-old main character (named Peter, in typically Hoeg fashion), along with his sixteen-year-old sister Tilde and terrier dog Basker, must find their missing parents or remanded to a children's home. The novel also has a philosophical component, however, this one dealing with the search for faith and meaning through an exploration of life, love, and happiness - be it through Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Judaism. Their father is the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark on the island of Fino, where they all live, and their mother, the organist, is a mechanical genius with a gift for invention.

Along the way, they are aided or hindered by a wild assortment of characters with names reflecting the oddity of life on Fino, the island where they live: Bodil Hippopotamus, the municipal director of the community; Anaflabia Borderrud, the Bishop of Grena; and Leonora Ticklepalate, the head nun of a Buddhist community, computer genius, and counselor in a program that offers sexual-cultural coaching. Polly Pigonia heads the Hindu community and runs the main branch of Fino Bank, while Sinbad Al-Babblab is the imam of the Muslim community.

All these characters are scheduled to gather in Copenhagen, where a religious synod is being held as a way to bring peace among the various religions. The synod will also involve a valuable display of religious artifacts, including jewel-encrusted crucifixes. Four "floaters," three men and one woman, may be terrorists planning havoc at the synod - unless they are stopped - and the issue of guns and explosives and who has them lurks as a threat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eccentric, charming and a lot of fun 24 Sep 2012
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
Danish writer Peter Høeg is best known for his third novel "Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow", partly because it was made into one of the more beautiful movie adaptations of modern fiction. While his latest book, "The Elephant Keepers' Children" is unlikely to change that association, it is a magical, story told through the eyes of the charmingly precocious fourteen year old Peter, full of farcical events, zany chases and brilliantly named characters. If you are looking for a gritty, realistic novel, this won't fit the bill, but for all its madcap events, Høeg continues his arch view of events and has surprising depth in the form of philosophical consideration of religions and faith.

In many ways, it's a very different style of book to "Miss Smilla" but it retains elements of the same charm and playfulness without the more moody, lyrical style. It's almost compulsory for Scandinavian writers to feature some kind of crime solving element to their books it seems (at least those that get translated into English) and while "The Elephant Keepers' Children" isn't your typical "Inspector Norse" story, it has at its warm heart a crime that young Peter and his siblings, the feisty Tilte and the older Hans, together with Peter's faithful dog, set out to prevent, not least as it appears that their parents are the likely perpetrators fo the crime.

Despite what you might expect from the title, Peter's parents are not zoological guardians of any kind. His father is a church minister on the fictitious Danish island of Finø, where he is accompanied on the organ by his wife, whose prodigious electronic and engineering skills have also helped her partner her husband in the faking of miracles that got them into trouble with the authorities before.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Elephant Keepers' Children A few thoughts 2 Mar 2014
By Violet
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a disappointment after having read Miss Smilla's Feeling for snow. I was glad when I finished it and had to make myself go to the end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable Read 17 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is unlike any Hoeg i have read before but i enjoyed it - humour exists and the absurd - about loneliness and one's ability to endure this....a childlike quality to it. I recommend it.
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