Guardian Review

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Guardian review

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo
reviewed by Mal Peet

Morpurgo is a literary landmark, a national treasure. To suggest that his writing (as distinct from his story-telling) lacks thunder and sparkle, or even originality, is akin to complaining that Stonehenge has no roof. His plainness is deliberate and crafted. All the same, I find myself wishing that his language would occasionally stretch and challenge his loyal young readers. Sometimes, it seems to me, he sells himself short.

In this novel, which ends happily all round, the postwar resolutions, the fates of his characters, are dealt with not so much simply as perfunctorily. Its ending is scarcely more than "They all lived happily ever after". Morpurgo knows this, of course, and tells us so. As in some of his earlier novels, a young listener urges the story onward. "And? And? What happened? What happened after that?" To which the narrator replies: "Oh, a lot happened. A whole lifetime of happenings. But I think I shall keep it short. I am suddenly rather tired." Indeed. MAL PEET

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on July 17, 2010 6:28 PM.

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