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The Elephant Keepers' Children Hardcover – 23 Oct 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (NY) (23 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590514904
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590514900
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 4.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,420,030 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) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

What would you do if your parents were con artists? --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 2 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
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 By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ArtsEater on 18 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
With 'The Elephant Keepers' Children', Danish author Peter Høeg again uses the magical realist style we've come to know from his previous novels such as 'The Woman and the Ape'. Peter is the novel's 14 year-old narrator and he lives with his parents, sister (Tilte), and fox terrier (Basker - named after the Hound of the Baskervilles) on the fictional Danish island of Finø. The plot can be summed up fairly quickly: Peter and Tilte's parents go missing and our young heroes try to track them down. They soon discover their parents are planning a heist at a multi-religious conference - or 'Grand Synod' - in Copenhagen which is to be attended by luminaries such the Pope, the Dalai Lama and Queen Margrethe of Denmark. The conference will be used to display a vast amount of exhibition cases where 'gold and jewels [will] glitter and sparkle behind the glass' (p.203). So Peter and Tilte travel across Denmark in a desperate attempt to try and stop their parents making an exhibition of themselves. Interspersed between the chase scenes are regular doses of Peter's religious and philosophical insights.

It's an out-and-out surrealist farce which combines slapstick adventure with examinations of religion and spirituality. So we have scenes where the corpse of 'Maria from Maribo' is mistaken for a nurse and a patient gets upset by her lack of interest in his ailments. Together with Maria we meet characters such Count Rickardt Three Lions, a former addict turned addiction therapist who sees little blue people everywhere and doesn't hesitate to tell everyone about them - as well as Leonora Ticklepalate, a computer geek specialising in phone sex. The madcap scenes and characters are peppered with young Peter's philosophisations on life.
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