Kim Echlin was born the same year as I was…1955. I look at her life’s work and somehow question my own. Have I been on track? And, what do I need to do in order to get on track? I’m reading her first novel, Elephant Winter…something that she published in 1997, something she did years before her most notable novel, The Disappeared.
I will finish Elephant Winter this evening and several things appeal to me personally about this novel. I relate, initially with the characters. Sophie Walker returns home from her own explorations of Africa to take care of her mother. Her mother is an artist…as is Sophie…and throughout the novel, there is a sense of creation and of unfinished works for both mother and daughter. Given my interest, also, in a whole number of species, I am fascinated as I read about the elephant populations living in captivity in a Safari farm in the middle of Ontario. All aspects of elephant behaviour and adaptation are explored, including the intriguing study of an invented elephant language, rumblings of various types. It is all so crazy-creative! I respond tremendously to the emotional/physical journey of mother and daughter. I just find this a phenomenal book and will go on to read Echlin’s Dagmar’s Daughter and The Disappeared, next…well, mayhaps not next, but somewhere down the line. I’m already steeped in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.