#FridayBookShare: Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story By Daphne Sheldrick

I’ve previously mentioned that I am a member of two book clubs. The clubs meet two weeks apart from each other which, for me, spaces out the timing of the readings perfectly. In an earlier post, I used the link-up #FridayBookShare to comment on my previous novel read. I was happy with the easy review format, while still allowing me ample reflection on my core experiences with the story. So, here I am again with a quick review of my most recent book read, Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Sheldrick.

First line of the book:

To give you the best sense of this memoir, I took the middle paragraph from the opening prologue. Upon reading this, I was totally hooked and had great difficulty putting the book down after that.

“The elephant took a pace backwards, swung her giant head and, using her trunk to lift my body, threw me like a piece of weightless flotsam high through the air with such force that I smashed down onto a giant clump of boulders some twenty paces away. I knew at once that the impact had shattered my right leg, for I could hear and feel the bones crunch as I struggled to sit up. I could see too that I was already bleeding copiously from an open wound in my thigh. Astonishingly there was no pain — not yet anyway.”

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb:

Daphne Sheldrick (nee Jenkins) was born in Kenya, in 1934, to British parents. There began her deep affinity with the wildlife that surrounded her. From an early age, Daphne began to care for orphaned wild animals. This culminated, years later, in Sheldrick being the first to discover a successful milk-substitute for orphaned elephants.

Sheldrick has done a remarkable job bringing her characters (both humans and wild/domestic animals) to life. Her story documents joy and sorrow, wonder and tragedy, deep love and devastating heart-break. This memoir is simultaneously inspirational, beautiful and gut-wrenching.

Introduce the main character (3 key words):

Daphne Sheldrick is an outstanding example of what can be accomplished (against all odds) when extreme empathy, tenacity and passion combine. The results are truly inspirational.

In 2006, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Daphne Sheldrick “‘Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire’ for services to the conservation of wildlife, especially elephants, and to the local community in Kenya” (source). Although this title does not fit neatly into three words…wouldn’t you just love to be introduced in this way?


Delightful design (add the cover image of the book):



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Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?):

Sheldrick’s story is well-suited to animal lovers, conservationists and those drawn to well-told non-fiction tilted towards igniting action. In fact, at several points I felt as I was having tea in Daphne’s living room, listening to her tales with awe, sincere admiration…and much discomfort.

Your favorite line/scene:

This book has much to say, with messages that refuse to be ignored. Although not my favorite paragraph in terms of delight, one section that continued to haunt me was:

β€œThe death of this great elephant evoked in us a lament for all the wild creatures of Africa and the vanishing wilderness that had protected and sheltered them for so long. It was symbolic of the tenuous future all wildlife faced in a continent where poverty bred corruption and greedy people in faraway lands created the demand the fueled the killing. The bull’s very size and magnificence heightened the sense of tragedy, for there is nothing so profoundly dead as a five-ton elephant with the allotted lifespan of a human, who has died before his time simply to supply some unthinking Westerner with a trinket.”

As the Boston Globe so astutely warns, “(readers) may be tempted, after turning the last page, to sell all possessions and join the cause.” (Source) After finishing the book, I may not have been seduced to that extreme…but I did become insatiably restless about meaning and purpose.

One could easily argue the flaws in this book. Still, this heartfelt memoir, by a truly remarkable woman, earns five solid stars from me. Not only do I recommend it highly…I also recommend having tissues handy!

17 Replies to “#FridayBookShare: Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story By Daphne Sheldrick”

  1. Wow, Donna. As much as I like the look of the cover (the same cover design you preferred), this is NOT a book I would have picked up during a stroll in bookstore or library. It’s not a topic that particularly interests me.
    Now, thanks to your excellent review, I’ll be searching out Life, Love and Elephants. Your ringing five star endorsement sold me, as did your reference to meaning and purpose.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi, Karen – I am glad that you are willing to give ‘An African Love Story’ a try. It really is an inspirational memoir.
      And thanks for mentioning this blog in your recent post.

  2. This sounds like a gripping memoir, Donna. Thanks for introducing me to Dame Daphne Sheldrick and for laying out the premise so well.

    On a different note, it looks like the feature that adds our last blog link to comments has been changed into options about following comments, which is already a possibility underneath.

    1. Hi, Liesbet – Thanks for your continued support.
      About my comment feature — I keep striving to find one that best suits my readers — so far, to no avail.
      I initially changed from the original wordpress.org comment feature to Discuz in order to give my readers more interaction choices in their comments. Due to an overactive captcha that blocked most commenters, that did not work well.
      I then switched back to wordpress.org regular comments, but the comment button was hard for some readers to see.
      I then switched to CommentLuv, which I loved, but some readers said that they were not notified by email when I commented upon their comment and they thought I had quite replying to comments. I could not find a way to get CommentLuv to do this so I switched to a new comment system that would allow readers to receive an email when I replied to their comments.
      If you, or anyone out there, has any suggestions on a comment feature that does it all, I would be very happy to switch again.
      In the meantime, please feel free to add the link to your latest post.

      1. Now it makes sense, Donna. I initially thought it was some mistake, since now there are two options to follow comments. Hard to get something to work for everyone! I have no solution and like things simple myself. πŸ™‚

        1. Thanks, Liesbet – I was hoping that you would have a magic answer to my comment dilemma. Hopefully someone else will know a solution that will allow the best of both worlds. (:

          1. Sorry I couldn’t be of any help. I think there are always issues with WordPress (and Blogger) that are out of our control and usually we probably don’t even realize or know them. Plus, all the social media options are driving me crazy. I think I have set my comment section up pretty simply and that seems to work. People can indeed add the link to their blog or latest post in the comment itself. I struggled for the longest time to be notified of new comments, but it solved itself miraculously. πŸ™‚

  3. Your book clubs pick some really interesting books and this one sounds especially intriguing. I’m in one book club but would love to find another one with a different focus (maybe biographies or history). I love how book clubs introduce us to books we might have never discovered on our own.

    1. Thanks, Janis – I agree that Book Clubs each have their own unique personalities. I was in one book club where we never read the same book, but instead read on the same theme. Another on-line book club (run by Real Simple Magazine) tended to read current authors — and then allowed us to submit questions to the author which s/he answered personally to us. Would your current book club be willing to experiment with a couple biographies/history and see how it goes?

  4. Hi, Stephanie – Thanks for continuing to follow along. I am totally with you in looking for positive impact on our world wherever I can find it–and hopefully contributing to it as well (at least in small ways).

    1. Hi, Louise – Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I look forward to reading your new blog when it comes out.

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