Lead Review

  • Book: An Elephant in My Kitchen: What the Herd Taught Me about Love, Courage and Survival
  • Location: KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Author: Françoise Malby-Anthony

Review Author: tripfiction

Location

Content

In these weird times (Coronavirus/Lockdown) I think everyone is reading a bit more. It’s a wonderful form of escapism (whether that’s from a world pandemic, your four walls or your flatmate) and there is no better form of escapism than this book. In a world when you’re confined inside, Françoise is in the bush rescuing Rhinos and Elephants. In a world where you can’t hug anyone, she’s falling asleep with baby animals next to her. It couldn’t be more different.

This book is the true story of Françoise Malby-Anthony, the wife (but not just that) of South African conservationist and author of Elephant Whisperer, Lawrence Anthony. After Lawrence’s death, Françoise is left in charge of their game reserve, the animals, her reluctant male workers and dealing with the threat of poaching.

It’s a wonderfully heart-warming and moving book, partly about one woman’s struggle in a culture that isn’t fully hers, and of the wider problems threatening the wildlife in Africa. It is really awful to read about the struggles she goes through trying to protect her rhinos and elephants from being butchered to death for their horns/ivory and the stances she takes, which turn out to be impossible.

I went to Tanzania 2 years ago (not South Africa I know!) but the descriptions of the scenery in the bush, the bush drives the animal behaviour and the excitement that you feel when seeing a wild animal is palpable. At points I really felt like I was in the truck bumping along dirt tracks trying to find an elephant.

This book is definitely worth a read for anyone with an interest in African wildlife, anyone who is/was planning a safari or is just looking for a crazy story of how someone can live a totally different life to yours. At points I found it a little over the top and some of the descriptions about her emotions a little dramatic, but that may be just my taste. Overall really good, and great for location.

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