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Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch

Jamrach's Menagerie

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One of our Great Reads you may have missed in 2011.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011.

Shortlisted for the Galaxy UK Author of the Year Award 2011.

A Richard and Judy Autumn Read 2011.

March 2011 Book of the Month.

A touching, charming and funny account of how friendship can develop between the strangest of companions that has been receiving some absolutely incredible but well deserved reviews, one of which particularly stands out from none other than A S Byatt - ‘One of the best stories I’ve ever read . . . A completely original book’ .

It's the story of Jaffy Brown who comes face to face with an escaped circus animal as he's minding his own business on a street in London's East End. Plucked from the jaws of death by Mr Jamrach – explorer, entrepreneur and collector of the world’s strangest creatures – the two strike up a friendship. Before he knows it, Jaffy finds himself on board a ship bound for the Dutch East Indies, on an unusual commission for Mr Jamrach.This bears all the hallmarks of a book that will end up on various book prize shortlists...

If you like Carol Birch you might also like to read books by Martin Davies, Ian McEwan and Jane Harris.


Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch

Young Jaffy Brown never expects to escape the slums of Victorian London. Then, aged eight, a chance encounter with Mr Jamrach changes Jaffy's stars. And before he knows it, he finds himself at the docks waving goodbye to his beloved Ishbel and boarding a ship bound for the Indian Ocean. With his friend Tim at his side, Jaffy's journey will push faith, love and friendship to their utmost limits.


'Put Moby Dick, Treasure Island and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner into a pot, add a pinch of Dickens, and you will get the flavour of Carol Birch's hugely entertaining novel.'
Mail on Sunday

‘One of the best stories I’ve ever read . . . A completely original book’ A.S. Byatt

‘Jamrach’s Menagerie is a terrific example of the virtues of finding a style and sticking to it: as good as anything Peter Carey has done in this line and, in certain exalted moments, even better.’ DJ Taylor, Independent

'Carol Birch's fiction continues to stretch bodies and minds to breaking point ... marvelous and terrifying.' Sunday Times

‘A rollocking take on the story of the whale ship Essex mixed in with a dash of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness’ Claire Allfree, Metro

‘Perhaps comparisons with Life of Pi are inevitable, given the ingredients, but Birch might just have the edge. The narrator finds an almost musical rhythm to his descriptions which lifts this above the standard coming of age story.’ Sue Lawrenson, The Skinny

‘A rollercoaster read, with never a dull moment’ Max Davidson, Irish Mail on Sunday

About the Author

Carol Birch

Carol Birch is the author of nine previous novels including Scapegallows and Turn Again Home, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize. She has won the Geoffrey Faber Award and the David Higham Award. She lives in Lancashire.

Author Photo © Martin Butler

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Book Info

Publication date

1st September 2011


Carol Birch

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Canongate Books Ltd


352 pages


Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
Literary Fiction
Thriller / Suspense
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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