That’s what this book starts out as. And then it turns into a Moby Dick kind of tale with its own version of the whale hunt and other exciting adventures. A bit like “In the Heart of the Sea” by Nathanial Philbrick which is the non-fiction story of the whale ship Essex.
The best thing about this book is the story-telling. It’s a great yarn. But it’s also very well told so there are points for that. And it’s a bit based on history, non-fiction and literary, but without overdoing it, so that’s a few points. It won a slot on the short-list for the Booker.
Jamrach is the owner of a side-show menagerie south of London. He hires the young Jaffy Brown, who has shown promise by petting an escaped tiger on the nose, to go on a sea-voyage to collect odd animals – a Komodo dragon to be exact. The story is Jaffy’s, not Jamrach’s.
Yet it’s not a “great” book and I didn’t “love” it. I think 8.5 is “almost great.”