As a small project I decided that I wanted to read the 6 books shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2011. I already know who has won, but I am going to keep going regardless and then decide which one I liked best. First on the list was Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch.
It is her 11th novel and is a mixture of Robinson Crusoe, Life of Pi and Oliver Twist all rolled into one. The main character, Jaffy Brown, is eight years old. We first meet him when he find's himself in the jaws of a Bengal tiger on the streets of London. He is rescued by the owner, Mr Jamrach, who runs a menagerie. As a reward he offers Jaffy a job, cleaning out cages. This is where Jaffy is first exposed to the wonderous collection of animals that Mr Jamrach owns. From Tasmanian devils, to toucans and even elephants, Jaffy is transported to an exotic life, faraway from his everyday life in East London. Here he meets Tim Linver, who becomes his best friend, his rival and later on a companion through life changing ordeal. Jaffy and Tim are invited to set sail on the Lysander, in search of a rare "dragon" and both decide to partake in this epic adventure. One is then transported to life at sea. From the drunken seamen to the crazy crew, Jaffy finally finds a foothold in life and begins to grow up and mature.
A number of exciting, gruesome, heart breaking and dangerous things happen aboard the Lysander and without giving anything away, it is what made the book for me. I felt like I was reading a children's book, with a moral byline, but still captivating enough to make me reflect on the book, once it was done. This book is something completely different to anything I have ever read and that's what made it such a brilliant read!
Happy 1st of December...let the Christmas Festivities begin!