Oh my God, Jamrach’s Menagerie is not for the faint-hearted. Seriously, don’t read it if you are easily upset. I loved it, it’s genius, but I have never cried so much over a book. I was blubbing like a baby, in absolute bits over it. Twice.
Carol Birch’s novel is set in Victorian times and paints a quirky, colourful picture of the slums in London. Jaffy Brown is an 8 year old boy with a pretty miserable life, then a chance encounter turns his life around.
He meets Mr Jamrach who has a menagerie of weird and wonderful creatures from across the world and for a while Jaffy’s life is on the up. He has money, food and good friends. And the animals love him.
But then, with his friend Tim, they set out on a dangerous sea voyage which could bring them fame and fortune. As it says on the back of the book ‘Jaffy’s journey will push faith, love and friendship to their utmost limits’. And these really are the UTMOST LIMITS.
If you can handle utmost limits, and I admit I only just could, this is an amazing book.
After I’d read it, I needed light relief. I should have broken my ‘no chick-lit’ rule to recover. But, no, I read Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong. So I spent an entire month in literature-induced trauma.
Read it and let me know what you think!