Andrew Drummond - Elephantina (3 stars)

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Elephantina

(Polygon)

HISTORICAL TALE

Scottish author Andrew Drummond has a strong reputation for writing comedic historical novels, and while this third book covers similar territory, it seems thinner on substance than his previous outings. Purporting to be the discovered journals of engraver Gilbert Orum, Elephantina tells of the death and dissection of an elephant in 1706 in, of all places, Dundee. If this sounds far-fetched, tough, because it actually happened.

Drummond tells this unlikely story well through Orum’s journal (with constant interjections from a sanctimonious 19th century ‘editor’), as local physician Dr Blair sets about dismembering and cataloguing the beast. Drummond has a lot of fun with the effect this giant animal has on the citizens of Dundee, but the book rather runs out of steam towards the end, and his attempts to connect events with the political climate of the time (the Act of Union being signed) don’t always come off.

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