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The Elephant of Belfast by S. Kirk Walsh

The Elephant of Belfast

Best Seller
The Elephant of Belfast by S. Kirk Walsh
Hardcover $27.00
Apr 06, 2021 | ISBN 9781640094000

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  • Apr 06, 2021 | ISBN 9781640094000

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Kirkus Reviews, 1 of 10 Fiction Books to Look for This Year 

“Based on real events, this engrossing novel takes place a year into the Second World War. A three-year-old elephant named Violet arrives at Belfast’s Bellevue Zoo, where Hettie Quin, a young zookeeper mourning the recent death of a sister, finds purpose and solace in caring for her . . . The novel vividly evokes the speed with which war makes the commonplace surreal, as Hettie and Violet become fugitives in a ruined city.” ––The New Yorker

“The streets of Belfast, both before and after destruction, are compelling in their beauty and horror, and Walsh does well to paint the specifics of such a singular landscape . . . Ultimately, the story is redemptive. It is the second step of recovery, after all, to believe in something bigger than yourself, like an elephant.” —Steve Amick, Michigan Public Radio

“Breathtaking . . . Walsh explores love, loyalty, and tragedy at a level that makes walking an elephant seem heartbreakingly simple . . . It’s heartening to remember that even through the worst sacrifices, love and courage can prevail.” —Rebekah Denn, Christian Science Monitor

“A charming debut around a little-known chapter of World War II—the German blitz of Belfast in a city already reeling from sectarian violence. But the real heart of this story centers around the love and devotion between Hettie and Violet, a twenty-year-old zookeeper and an orphaned three-year-old Indian elephant. While war rages on, Hettie will go to great lengths to protect Violet giving readers a riveting story of strength and survival, hope and resilience.” —Barnes & Noble

“A beguiling and compelling story of historical fiction set during the 1941 Belfast Blitz . . . Walsh’s research pays dividends for the reader as the sights, sounds, and smells of Belfast rise in the imagination . . . The Elephant of Belfast is a heartfelt and heartbreaking, ultimately inspiring and uplifting, tale of coming-of-age in extraordinary circumstances.” —Michelle Newby Lancaster, Lone Star Review

“The finely drawn prose is cinematic in places, and the characters are vividly brought to life with Walsh’s deft portraiture. The Elephant of Belfast is historical fiction at its best.” —D.A. Spruzen, Washington Independent Review of Books

“Inspired by the true story of the ‘elephant angel’ of Belfast, Walsh’s debut is a stirring tale of grief, loss, and survival against the chaotic backdrop of the war and the IRA’s actions. The unique setting of Belfast during WWII makes this book stand out . . . Overall, fans of WWII fiction and historical fiction will enjoy this fresh take on the era.” —Booklist

“Offering a distinctive slant among this year’s strong World War II novels.” —Library Journal

“Walsh fictionalizes in her charming debut a little-known true story from WWII, that of a female Irish zookeeper and a 3,000-pound young elephant. The year is 1940 when 20-year-old Hettie Quin, a part-time zookeeper, waits at the Belfast docks for the arrival of Bellevue Zoo’s latest attraction—a three-year-old elephant named Violet . . . Hettie’s devotion to Violet forms the emotional core of this novel, which does an excellent job of recreating daily life in Belfast during WWII. Hettie and Violet’s bond is one to treasure.” —Publishers Weekly

“Walsh delivers a turbulent portrait of life in a divided city . . . A unique perspective of a country at war and the lengths people will go for those they love.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Sensitively rendered and finely drawn, this remarkable story, based on true events, is both uplifting and heartbreaking.” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and The Exiles

The Elephant of Belfast knocked me flat and picked me up, not just once but many times over the course of S. Kirk Walsh’s deeply satisfying telling. There’s so much life in these pages, life as well as death—we’re in wartime Belfast, dear reader, and the Luftwaffe is dropping bombs—that I couldn’t help but feel changed by the end, experienced. Only the best novels do that, and the very fine Elephant of Belfast belongs in that rank.” —Ben Fountain author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

The Elephant of Belfast boasts not one but two dauntless heroines: Hettie, a young Irish zookeeper and Violet, a young Indian elephant. From their first meeting, Hettie is determined to protect Violet and as dangers mount, we cannot help cheering on her devotion and her resourcefulness. Walsh has written a novel of deep affection and knife-edge suspense. A brilliant debut.” —Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in The Field

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