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Jamrach's Menagerie (Unabridged Audiobook) [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Carol Birch , narrated by Dave John
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.52
Price: 19.87 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Kindle Edition 2.86  
Hardcover, Large Print --  
Paperback 6.29  
Audio, CD, Audiobook, Unabridged 19.87  
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Book Description

1 Sep 2011
Nominated for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction. Carol Birch's epic novel brings alive the smells, sights and flavours of the nineteenth century, from the docks of London to the storms of the Indian Ocean: a gripping exploration of our relationship to the natural world and the wildness it contains. 1857. Jaffy Brown is running along a street in London's East End when he comes face to face with an escaped circus animal. Rescued by Mr Jamrach - explorer, entrepreneur and collector of the world's strangest creatures - the two strike up a friendship. Before he knows it, Jaffy finds himself on board a ship bound for the Dutch East Indies. His journey will push faith, love and friendship to their utmost limits. This recording is unabridged. Typically abridged audiobooks are not more than 60% of the author's work and as low as 30% with characters and plotlines removed.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 10 pages
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks; Unabridged Audiobook 10 CDs edition (1 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1407488368
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407488363
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 13.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,298,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Riveting ... Masterful... A teeming exhibition of the beautiful and the bizarre' --The Sunday Times

'Magical ... A sustained feat of imagination and diligent research.' --The Daily Mail

About the Author

Carol Birch is the author of ten previous novels, including Scapegallows (2008) and Turn Again Home (2003) which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She has also won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the David Higham Award for Best First Novel. Jamrach's Menagerie was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011 and the London Book Award. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This tall tale will eat you up like wildfire 8 Feb 2011
By Giles B
The opening chapter of this book is glorious reminder of the power of a good yarn in the right hands. A young boy meets an escaped tiger on the streets on east London and his life is transformed. With each subsequent chapter the story just gets more compelling. I haven't read a more enjoyable book in years.

Like the best Victorian novels it follows a boy's life through to old age, and on the way recounts the most extraordinary voyage. After his encounter with the tiger, our hero Jaffy takes on work for its owner, Mr Jamrach - traveller, menagerie-owner and purveyor of the world's strangest creatures. This work soon involves a commission to procure a creature for Jamrach that may or may not exist, a so-called sea dragon that is recorded as living in the Indian Ocean. So Jaffy's voyage begins, and seems to be going very well. But then fate's winds blow in another direction.

It has all the verbal energy of The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner, with the storytelling nous of Joseph O'Connor. Like a great David Attenborough film it takes you right up close to nature, whether the whiskers of Bengal tiger, the spout of a whale or the snapping jaws of a komodo dragon. But best of all it explores the wildness within our own species and asks what circumstances might see that laid bare.

A stunning piece of fiction from a writer at the top of her game. I must read more Birch.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here There Be Dragons 12 May 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Slow burn historical travel tale that eventually explodes into gory horror.

This novel is the story of Jaffy Brown, a sailor and naturalist in Victorian London. A number of exciting incidents including shipwreck, attack by wild animals and whaling are described in an involving and detailed first person narration.

Despite being packed with incident, the story is slow paced. Even the earliest parts of the book, describing Jaffy's childhood are unhurried, the ship-board passages are almost static. The characters themselves draw the reader's attention to this : "Skip..said..."We've gone into dragon time."...It was true, something had changed, as if we'd sailed into a different air."(p179)

This slow development only makes the eventual crisis more shocking.

The fictional search for Komodo Dragons, quite plausible, is fascinating. It makes an interesting contrast with David Attenborough's real life account of his search for the Dragons, a short 100 years or so later. Strange to think that Jaffy's Dragon could well have survived, ancient and huge, to see Attenborough and his film crew.

"Jamrach's Menagerie" is a well written and invoving book, although readers should be aware it is, inevitably, a difficult and grisly read at times. The short afterword describing which elements of the story are based on real life incidents is surprising.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, original story-telling 27 Mar 2011
Carol Birch's new novel is the evocative, moving, and original story of Jaffy Brown, a young boy in nineteenth-century London. Jaffy has an encounter with a tiger in an East-End street, and this leads him to make the acquaintance of Mr. Jamrach, a trader of exotic animals. Through working for Jamrach Jaffy meets a wide variety of characters in London, including Tim and Ishbel. These are twins one year his senior who come to shape his life.

Jaf's story is gripping and unusual. There is a refreshing lack of clichés, in either plot or narrative, and no lazy shortcuts. The writing is evocative, with Birch excellently portraying atmosphere, with an almost tactile sense of London and of life on board a ship.

Birch's real triumph however is in her characters and characterisation - the real menagerie. As the narrator, Jaf is the standard likeable everyman and moral compass of the tale. Those surrounding him, such as Dan Rymer, Ishbel, Skip, Captain Proctor, and Rainey are illustrated in deft strokes, each believable and rounded. This is especially evident in the character of Tim, Jaf's boyhood friend and later shipmate. Tim's youthful cruelty and tyranny is excellently portrayed as an aspect of youth. Similarly, the growth of their friendship is realistically handled, and their later scenes together are quite affecting.

The only issue with this novel is the sometimes inconsistent voice of Jaf, the first-person narrator. This was particularly noticeable at the beginning of the novel, when Jaf's voice shifted between that of his young, uneducated London patter, and that of his older, educated and experienced voice, who was ostensibly telling the story of his life. This shift between Jaf's memories and contemporary narration was not always clear.

This, however, is a minor quibble in an otherwise excellent novel.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rip-roaring read expertly told 14 Feb 2011
By Song2
Carol Birch is not a writer I have come across previously, but I am immensely grateful to have finally bumped into her work- her brilliant evocations of both the grimy, tough life of 19th century working-classs London and then the harshness of life on the ocean waves are vivid, rich and addictively more-ish.

Coupled with Birch's ability to spin an excellent yarn peopled by loveable, cheeky, yet frail characters, Jamrach's Menagerie is a reading feast. It's a novel which takes you on a classic, gothic adventure to the ends of the Earth, whilst exploring the essence of what it means to be human.

This novel is a treat, and is almost imppossible to put down once you've set sail on the search for the ever-so-rare Komodo dragon.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Loved this book, fleshed out characters, well set in it's time, original
Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars recipient very pleased!
Bought as gift, recipient very pleased !
Published 14 days ago by Miu miu Lin
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but perhaps too long
Her writing scintillates and the first half is totally absorbing but I haven't given it five stars because, although beautifully told, and a fascinating story, I felt the adrift... Read more
Published 1 month ago by P. DENING
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Loved it
Published 1 month ago by RK
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it.
A fantastic story of adventure and discovery. A must read. I enjoyed this so much, I lent it to a few friends, who promptly went out and bought their own copies so they could read... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Heather Crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Didn't think I was going to enjoy this as I don't like books about animals but once I got into it I couldn't put it down. Read more
Published 2 months ago by C L GORDON
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books
Such an original story from the grimy streets of Victorian London to a gripping adventure on the high seas. I bought the audio version and have listened to it twice so far...
Published 2 months ago by Angela C
5.0 out of 5 stars jamrach's menagerie
This book is a started off as an adult story and as it went on put me in mind of a teenage boys adventure story a very gripping read right to the very last page, very imaginative... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Krasha Pengelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story
This is definitely one of the best stories I have read for sometime . The audio book enhances the experience . A great buy . Highly recommended.
Published 6 months ago by moira doherty M Doherty
4.0 out of 5 stars Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
I got to read this book with my Book Group and liked it so much that I bought two copies
for members of my family. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Madge
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