The sequel to Singer’s Still Life with Elephant (2007) follows our heroine home from a year in Africa, only to discover that home may simply be where the elephants are.
After breaking up with Tom Pennington, the millionaire animal activist who won her heart in the first novel, Neelie spends a year at a reserve in Kenya nurturing baby elephants. As she readies to return to New York, political strife in Kenya changes everything. Stranded at the airport she meets safari guide Diamond-Rose Tremaine, who manages to get the two of them to Zimbabwe, where Neelie falls hopelessly in love with an elephant the camp calls Tusker. His bad behavior has him targeted for execution, and she becomes determined to save him. In exchange for $35,000 to a corrupt official, Neelie and Diamond have three months to find Tusker a safe haven. The two make it back to New York, but both feel the constriction of suburban America. Neelie misses the baby elephants, and Diamond can’t wash the bush out of her soul. She rarely bathes, eats most meals with her knife, answers questions with Swahili proverbs and prefers sleeping on the floor to the challenge of untangling sheets. At the New York animal sanctuary where Neelie and Diamond work, its founder Mrs. Wycliff is faltering from dementia (but the funny, charming kind!) and is now on permanent safari. Tom saves the place and Neelie is convinced he’s the only one who can save Tusker, but he refuses. Is it out of spite? What are his secret plans for the sanctuary? Will Tom and Neelie reunite? The novel’s finale ignites romance between Tom and Neelie and between Diamond and Jungle Johnny, a children's-show conservationist. All’s well that ends well, but for the odd chords the novel strikes—from slapstick comedy (including a cursing parrot), to the seriousness of animal poaching and corruption in Africa, to the fairly predictable romantic mix-ups between Tom and Neelie.
Animal-loving romantics will forgive the uneven tone.