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An African Love Story: Life, Love and Elephants

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,801 ratings  ·  320 reviews
Daphne Sheldrick, whose family arrived in Africa from Scotland in the 1820s, is the first person ever to have successfully hand-reared newborn elephants. Her deep empathy and understanding, her years of observing Kenya’s rich variety of wildlife, and her pioneering work in perfecting the right husbandry and milk formula have saved countless elephants, rhinos, and other bab ...more
Hardcover, 334 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published January 1st 2011)
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Martin Rowe
Disclaimer: I have visited and given money to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and so should you. Daphne Sheldrick has made a major contribution to wildlife conservation and her work is to be applauded. Her memoir is a somewhat conventional "Out of Africa" story: hardy pioneers, gauzy sunsets, magnificent vistas, and lots of lots of stories about the animals who have come her way. She was obviously deeply in love with David, and yet he strangely remains a somewhat remote character. He is defi ...more
I have assorted thoughts on this book. First of all the language is detached, polite, oh so proper British English, quite different from how Americans express themselves. The "Britishness" is reflected not only in word pronunciation but also in the choice of words, the views presented and the life style of the family, of clear colonial stock. I am listening to the audiobook and the narration by Virginia McKenna emphasizes this. It kind of bugs me a bit. Maybe the "Britishness" of the narration p ...more
I'm going to be real, I gave up on this book after dragging myself through 11 hours of the 14 hour long audiobook. My breaking point came when - shocker! - the millionth animal under Daphne's care dies. I love animals, and I want to love people's heart-warming stories of living with animals. I like the idea of these stories. I like my own life, lived with two cats. I worked at the Humane Society and fell under the spell of fluffy unfortunates on the daily. But here's the deal, I can't get throug ...more
I am continuing to read this book only because Of its window into Kenya of the 50s and because I love books about nature- however- I am praying this woman comes to her senses in some of her views on big game hunting and colonialism. To wit: despite the fact that her British family decided to take up Kenya's offer of land and move into masai tribal lands she is astounded at the Mau Mau anti colonial guerilla war- different tribes but you get the point. She sees her family as benign colonists. Als ...more
I just adored this book. It is an autobiography telling the story of an African-born British woman--how her family came to Kenya, describing how it was growing up there, meeting her first love, then later falling deeply in love with her soulmate. It is also the story of how Sheldrick, as the wife of a game warden, began to raise orphan wildlife to give them a second chance at life. She worked with many elephant calves and became an expert on how to raise them, given their surprisingly delicate n ...more
The Boston Globe warns readers they might be tempted after the last page to sell their possessions and join the author's cause.

They are right.

This book packs a wallop. It is the story of a woman born and raised in Africa. Who eventually finds herself madly and deeply in love with a man who shares her passions. Together, they rally to create sanctuaries for a once abundant and replete wildlife. All of it against the backdrop of a heartbreaking and incredible fight for the preservation and protect
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the animals and I felt touched by this account of Daphne Sheldrick’s remarkable life and her accomplishments. Her love of Africa, her family, and the animals were fascinating and engaging. Despite the title, it wasn’t just elephants. For being a memoir/autobiography, it was very well written. I’m grateful for that.

The first part was about the author growing up and her family structure. The story covered why they traveled to Africa to live. This part felt a li
Sandy Seppala
Mar 14, 2014 Sandy Seppala rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandy by: Read review in NYTimes and People
Since I served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and visited the Sheldrick Orphan Project when I visited Kenya in 1991, I was most interested to read this book. I was not disappointed. I thought the book was excellent and that would be of interest to anyone.

The book is a memoir recounting Dame Daphne's life in Kenya, her marriage to David Sheldrick and how that changed her life, and, most importantly, her love of and commitment to the wildlife of Kenya. She became the first person to be able to raise
As a contemporary of Shedrick(just two years apart) also working on a family history, it is interesting to see how she managed her writing. Daphne did exactly what she set out to do- tell the story of her loves, life and elephants as she lived it. She divorced in a time before it was normal and remained friends with her ex-husband. She took hardship that included hours of no sleep to care for animals, and months of living "camp style" as an opportunity to love her husband, the animals she came a ...more
This is an inspirational book for anyone interested in rescuing animals. It's also an interesting (if not a bit scattered) history of the decimation of the animal population in Kenya and other parts of Africa. There are some emotional parts that could have been much more emotional if Sheldrick had not kept such a "distanced" tone to her narrative. Not detached, just "distanced," which is understandable considering all the emotional pain she has experienced throughout the years.
I've read other r
Melissa Villasenor
okay this story could have been remarkable, but man is she boring! she really needs some jokes written in here! she reflects on everything so dramatically. i thought give me a break. I kept falling asleep while reading because she kept using big words to show how smart she is. Oh and she kept on naming all of these different tribe names. Kiwahaka, Mioto, Poo-Poo... How am I supposed to remember every single tribe as I read the chapters? There are way too many. Every single page that I read, I ro ...more
Claire Meirowitz
This is the best preservation-of-nature book I've read since "Gorillas in the Mist" many years ago. In fact, I was so emotionally involved in Daphne Sheldrick's wonderful prose that I read portions of this book out loud to my husband. I heartily recommend it to anyone who cares about animals and worries about what happens to them. The author's anecdotes about rearing orphaned elephants, antelope, rhinos and more are both heartwarming and, often, heartbreaking. Please join me in loving and apprec ...more
When the focus is on animals, this book is really interesting and enjoyable. Her personal life and the business side of the refuges are not nearly as engrossing. Her take on colonialism and natives/settlers is a little disconcerting (the grand tradition of pioneers and the pesky Africans who think independence is actually a good idea ... hmmm).
A woman with a profound love for animals.

In rating this book I have tried to remove the negative effect of the awful narration of my audiobook. 14hrs 45mins of Virginia McKenna's incorrect emphases and overly sickly reading was a test of endurance, but the true characters were the animals and they were impossible not to love.

Daphne Sheldrick has spent her whole life in Kenya, raised to love and respect the wildlife around her. She came from an era where hunting was the norm, but gradually it bec
I didn't actually quite finish this book, so clearly I didn't love it. It was a window into a completely different kind of life, motivated by a completely different worldview. I am not an animal person. At all. My kids have never even had a goldfish for a pet, much less a dog. Much less a baby rhinoceros or elephant. And I can assure you I would never, ever have a baby duiker run around the savannah all day then sleep in my bed at night. Or have a wild bird fly around my house, even if it was sm ...more
Daphne Sheldrick spent her whole life in Africa, yet she still considers herself to be English. It's a mystery but she paints a vivid picture of her life in Kenya. Her husband was the administrator for a huge national park in Eastern Kenya. To their credit, they vehemently tried to protect the lives of wild animals under their care. The value of ivory and rhino horns in Asia attracted poachers which slaughtered animals mercilessly. Herds were reduced and in some cases entirely vanquished. After ...more
Another book that got really high ratings and sounded fascinating.

I had to return it to the library when I was only halfway finished, so that might be why I can't give it higher marks.

It was interesting to read about her life in Africa when there were still large portions of Africa that weren't settled. Actually, the beginning was really interesting - people leaving everything and everyone they knew to settle somewhere remote. And the trials that ensued. But then it became a story of her great l
Birgitte Bach
Lydbogen jeg har lyttet til er læst af Virginia McKenna og det er som at høre en bedstemor eller oldemor fortælle om sin barndom i den smukkeste britiske accent. Men at høre Daphne Sheldricks livs historie er, som at få læst et fantastisk eventyr højt. Bogen er læst meget indlevende, bevægende og stemningsmættet og man kan flere steder høre oplæseren selv bliver bevæget over historien. Den blev lidt langtrukken til sidst, 14 timer 46 minutter er langtid at holde fokus og der var rigtig mange ele ...more
I'm a sucker for books about animals, and exotic places with a lifestyle that is far from what I know. I enjoyed the book and was amazed at the courage and persistance of the people in the book. However, I found myself tiring of reading it and began to skim over pages towards the end. A bit less detail would have suited me better, especailly as related to the politics of a country that went from a part of the British Empire to a self-governing entity. While I do not deny that this probably does ...more
Donna Whitesel
Having just been to Kenya, this book was especially poignant to me. The magnificence of Kenya's wildlife and the failure of the government to protect it kind of reminds me of the same problem with our whole earth. But Kenya now sees that safari tourism is their biggest resource. It was heartbreaking to read about the culling and poaching of elephants and rhinos. They are amazing animals. Daphne and her husband did all they could to protect them from ivory and rhino horn poachers, and her elephan ...more
A very well written book. Dame Daphne Sheldrick writes with passion and admiration not only for her beloved husband David, but the many wild African animals they raised, loved, and sought to protect from poachers. David and Daphne developed Tsavo National Park East and Tsavo National Park West in Kenya, Africa. Much of what is known about elephants and understanding the delicate balance between nature and animals was observed and written about by the Sheldricks. Definitely worth reading before g ...more
Robin Taylor

This is a lovely book for anyone who loves animals or Africa. It begins with the story of a white family who was invited to "colonize" Kenya by the British government, written by the granddaughter who grows up in Kenya and has known no other home. Daphne Sheldrick paints a beautiful picture of the land she grew to love, and her special relationship with the animals she grew to love, respect and understand. She writes sparingly of the conflict between the native tribes and the white settlers, and

To be honest, I was not looking forward to listening to all. Yeeesss, I was judging a book by its cover, and now I know why you're not supposed to. I mean, a picture of a lady wearing knee-high socks walking next to an elephant? Looked hokey.

But now, basically, I want to be this lady. I would consider myself an animal-lover. Yeah, yeah, I don't really actively do all that I can to protect all of them, but I try to be very caring to those I come in contact with. Heck, I love animals so
This was a fast, fascinating read! Daphne's entire family moved to Kenya from South Africa to start a new life. At that time, land was given to the British, who still controlled Kenya. I can't imagine how whole families trekked through Kenya to find the right place to settle, often resettling. The children grew up with wild animals surrounding their homes. Daphne grew up with the love, understanding, and respect for all animals.

Daphne's dad set up a profitable business, like others who made the
John Rouse
Daphne Sheldrick’s autobiography is an inspiring story about her lifelong fascination with Kenya's endangered wildlife and the men and women who tried valiantly to protect them. If you like wildlife and adventure you’ll love this book.
The famous authoress traces her life from her childhood growing up in the White Highlands of Kenya, through her successive marriages with two of Kenya’s legendary Game Wardens, Bill Woodley and David Sheldrick, through Kenya's turbulent Mau-Mau uprising in the 50s
I first learned about this book when the author was scheduled to speak at the Natural History Museum in NYC, of which I'm a member. I couldn't make it to her discussion, but I was intrigued when I read about her work. This book is a love story between her, her husband, and a many animals they rehabbed through the years. This is a remarkable memoir & instills in me an even greater love of animals and a deep appreciation & admiration for people who dedicate their lives to the preservation ...more
Madeline Moss
This book is important as history. Dame Daphne, also, has devoted her life to elephants. That is undeniable. What is most interesting aside from her dedication to elephants is this elephant-in-the-room: she is a white woman from "settlers", British citizens improving the empire. Which is such an important part of the way things are, such an important part that in her book, almost none of the pictures of African men who cared for these baby elephants are attributed. The elephant is, but the care- ...more
Shay Greaney
The novel Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Sheldrick is an autobiography about her life in Africa. Daphne Sheldrick tells heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking stories of past animals that she has cared for to display the human side of animals and also the importance of preserving them. This is a very memorable book because the stories she tells stick with you and show you how incredible animals really are. Throughout the book, Sheldrick helps to better the reader's ...more
A very interesting read. Daphne starts by giving background of her ancestors moving from England to South Africa and then pioneering to Kenya. At parts I would get frustrated at her elitist viewpoint but by the end she wasn't so bad in that aspect. And she has an interesting viewpoint of those who are "British" yet were born in Kenya but are still in the country when the government power is handed back to the Kenyans. This book will really give a great insight into the wild animals of Africa- in ...more
I loved this book. It's non-fiction but feels like a novel. I didn't want to put it down. The author's descriptions of the African landscape and wildlife is so vivid and beautiful, and her work with orphaned elephants and other animals is inspiring and at times made me want to cry. This is a great read for anyone but especially for animal lovers. I wish I could meet Mrs. Sheldrick in person...what an incredible life story.
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Dame Daphne Sheldrick is a Kenyan author, conservationist, and expert in animal husbandry, particularly the raising and reintegrating of orphaned elephants into the wild. From 1955 to 1976, Sheldrick was co-warden of Kenya’s Tsavo National Park.

Sheldrick has been named as one of the 35 most significant conservationists ever. She has won the BBC’s Lifetime Achievement Award and has an Honorary Doc
More about Daphne Sheldrick...
The Orphans of Tsavo An Elephant Called Eleanor Animal Kingdom: The Story Of Tsavo, The Great African Game Park The Tsavo Story Orphans of Tsavo

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“Life is for the living, not the dead, who belong to the past and are at peace and beyond all further pain and suffering 'somewhere in the great somewhere” 3 likes
“O Lord of love and kindness, who created the beautiful earth and all the creatures walking and flying in it, so that they may proclaim your glory. I thank you to my dying day that you have placed me amongst them.’ – St Francis of Assisi” 0 likes
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