by Barbara Gowdy
, published in 1998 by Harper Collins
Canada. It is the story of a group of elephant
s trying to survive
; enduring a drought
, and trying to evade poachers
. Mud, the main character
is an elephant cow with visionary
powers, and with her herd
is trying to find the White Bone, which will lead them to the legendary Safe Place, where there is no peril
Gowdy spent a great deal of time researching for this book, and travelled to Kenya to observe elephants in their natural habitat. I found the book very original and moving. It is beautifully written and carries a strong message.
"If they live long enough they forget everything.
< >Most of them don't live that long. Nine out of ten are slaughtered in their prime, decades before their memories have started to drain. I speak of the majority, then, when I say it is true what you've heard: they never forget.
They themselves think this accounts for their size. Some go so far as to claim that under that thunderhead of flesh and those huge rolling bones they are memory. They contain memory, yes, but what may not be so well known is that they are doomed without it. When their memories begin to drain, their bodies go into decline, as if from a slow leakage of blood."
-Barbara Gowdy, The White Bone