Book Review: Still Life with Elephant, by Judy Reene Singer


Today, we once again welcome our guest blogger, Jennifer Walker, to share one of her book reviews. Be sure to stop by Jenn’s site and say hello!

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Book Review: Still Life with Elephant, by Judy Reene Singer
By Jennifer Walker

Still Life with Elephant is Judy Reene Singer’s second book, and after reading Horseplay, I had to run out and buy it as soon as it came out. Ms. Singer has a witty and lively writing style that makes me want to read everything she writes—I’d settle for shopping lists at this point!

Still Life with Elephant is a slight departure in style from her first book in that it has a much more somber tone. Neelie Sterling recently learned that her husband, Matt, is going to be a father—with another woman. Now, she is struggling to pay the bills and mend her heart by throwing herself into her horse training business. When she learns her wandering husband is headed to Zimbabwe to rescue an elephant, she decides to go along in hopes of also rescuing her failed marriage.

Ms. Singer takes the reader on an exciting ride to Africa to obtain said elephant, but the story doesn’t end there. Once the elephant is home, Neelie must tame her so she can become a safe member of the animal sanctuary where she now lives. Meanwhile, her relationship with Matt and the sanctuary’s benefactor become more complicated.

The introspective nature of Still Life with Elephant touched me deeply. My heart ached right along with Neelie’s, and I felt as though I was a part of her successes. I related to her hearing problem (or is it more of a listening problem?), because I often do the same thing. Neelie is incredibly real, with real-life problems—even though those problems come in a package most of us are not familiar with. Many of us have struggled with warring emotions and major life changes, and Ms. Singer presents them very poignantly. Neelie is likable, someone I could imagine having as a friend, and I missed her as soon as the book was over.

Although the overall theme of the books is somber, there are some light moments where Ms. Singer injects her delightful sense of humor. There are some wonderful interactions between the characters and enough lightness to keep the book from being depressing.

Still Life with Elephant is a journey. Neelie travels many miles, and in the end she not only rescues her elephant, but herself. She enters a new era of her life, leaving behind many of the trappings of the old one. I greatly enjoyed taking the journey with her and felt as though I’d changed a little myself by the time it was over. I highly recommend it, along with Judy Reene Singer’s first book, Horseplay.

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