Monday, May 24, 2021

Mini reviews - The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, Rose Mellie Rose by Marie Redonnet, The Address by Fiona Davis

I don't have much to say about any of these, and this post will catch me up completely (for now) so it may be quiet in here till I finish something. 

I read The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo on my iPad (where I have a fully-loaded Kindle app that I barely ever touch) when our power went out a couple weeks ago and I just wanted something light to read while we sat around in the dark. 

The Magician's Elephant is about a boy who lives with a sickly man who has been telling the boy all his life that the boy's entire family is dead and that the old man rescued the child. The boy spends his days being drilled to be a soldier like his father and doing his master's bidding. One day, he goes to market and is drawn into a fortuneteller's tent with the promise of learning about his future. He spends the old man's food money on the prediction, which has to do with following an elephant to find the sister he thought dead. But, there are no elephants in this [fictional] town. 

And, then he hears that an elephant has been conjured by a magician and fallen through the roof of the opera house, onto the lap of a woman who is now permanently injured. The elephant is being held captive and the boy must figure out how to save the elephant so that he can follow it. The magician, the newly-disabled woman, and a few others figure into this story and it ends on a happy note. 

Highly recommended - The Magician's Elephant was exactly the read I needed on the day I opened the file. It's warm, witty, stirring, and full of heart. Kate DiCamillo's middle grade books haven't let me down, yet. 

Rose Mellie Rose by Marie Redonnet is the second book I read while the power was out and it's . . . kind of weird. The third in a triptych, Rose Mellie Rose is a short novel about a 12-year-old girl named Mellie who was left in a grotto as a baby and has been raised by an elderly woman, Rose. When Rose dies, Mellie follows her instructions and heads for the city of Oât, where she registers, gets an ID, and becomes a part of the dying town on a lagoon. 

There's a lengthy explanation by the author about the three novels in the triptych after the story and, I confess, I have no idea what she was trying to say. But, apparently there is flooding and a cemetery in all three books and the flooding somehow relates to the death of 19th Century literature? There's a lot of death, at any rate, the story is a tragedy, and there is some really disturbing sex (TW: could be considered rape but is not portrayed as such) . . . yes, with a 12-year-old. 

Neither recommended or not recommended - I mean . . . ugh, I really did find parts of Rose Mellie Rose disturbing but at the same time it was compelling and I don't regret reading it, although I would not seek out the companion novels (all three are stand-alones with apparently the same theme so it's not necessary to read them in any order if you do read all three). Mostly, I just feel like I'm glad I read it and now I can pass it on. I bought it long, long ago when we had a salvage store that occasionally got book stock from floods, fires, etc., and I was building my home library so I'd buy just about anything that appealed to me. It's a French translation.

The Address by Fiona Davis is a contemporary/historical combo that takes place mostly in the Dakota, the upscale apartment building in New York City where a lot of wealthy, famous people live and outside of which John Lennon was shot. 

Sara Smythe is an Englishwoman who travels from England to work as the manager of the Dakota as it's opening and Bailey, in the 1980s, is an addict fresh out of rehab who is offered the job of redecorating her cousin's apartment in the same building. 

In the past storyline, we know that Sara went mad and killed the architect who employed her. What happened to cause this fit of passion?

In the more contemporary part, Bailey finds clues to what happened in the past that might change her own future. 

Recommended - I liked The Address. It's the first book I've read by Davis and I wasn't quite sure what to expect but it was another one of those, "Ah, just what I needed at this moment" books. It's a light, easy read but with a nice little mystery and I'd been reading a nonfiction without finishing it for over a week so I needed the mental break. As is often the case, I pretty much predicted everything that ended up happening. It took me a while to untangle the possibilities and come up with my own theory, though, so no problem. 

Sara is institutionalized in this story, at one point, and when I got to that part, I recognized the descriptions from Nellie Bly's book about her time in the madhouse. Sure enough, Nellie made an appearance. The Address is a fun read. I will definitely be looking for more by Davis. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. You need to read all her books. I couldn't pick out a favorite if I had to. They're all marvelous.

    1. Not sure which her you're referring to, since all three authors are women. Fiona Davis? I will definitely read more. I've read several by Kate DiCamillo and loved them all.

  2. The Magician's Elephant sounds charming.


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