BOOK REVIEW: ‘Leaving Time’: A Good Introduction to Jodi Picoult’s Works If You’ve Never Read Her; Fulfills Expectations If You’re a Fan

REVIEWED BY DAVID M. KINCHEN
When I sat down to write my review of the new novel by best-selling author Jodi Picoult, I thought (reviewer thinking: This is the first Jodi Picoult novel I’ve encountered)…I can hear the cries now: “And you call yourself a book reviewer???” Then, I checked my memory with the search engine and discovered that, yes, I had reviewed a Jodi Picoult novel, “The Storyteller” from 2013. A senior moment? I hope not! My review: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/56367

leaving time jacketPicoult’s newest novel, “Leaving Time” (Ballantine Books, 416 pages, $28.00) will satisfy fans of authors like Stephen King. (King contributes praise on the back of the dust jacket: “Picoult writes with unassuming brilliance.”). And, of course, it will meet or exceed the expectations of Picoult’s fans worldwide.
Told in Rashomon form (“The Rashomon effect is contradictory interpretations of the same event by different people. The phrase derives from the movie Rashomon, where four witnesses’ accounts of a rape and murder are all different” –Wikipedia) by Alice Metcalf; her 13-year-old daughter, Jenna; former police officer Virgil Stanhope, and psychic Serenity Jones, “Leaving Time” is a love story, a murder mystery and an account of elephant behavior that will remind you that we’re all basically alike as animals.

Don’t, dear reader, skip to the end to find out what happens in “Leaving Time.” I’ll make an exception, though: You might want to read the author’s note beginning on Page 399 to find out about elephant poaching and the efforts of people to save these magnificent animals. Picoult’s novel centers on a fictional elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire, but, in the author’s note, she describes the real-life elephant sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn. and other efforts to protect the animals from poachers, who kill elephants for their ivory, which is shipped to China.

Jenna, who lives with her grandmother, has devoted her life to find her missing mother, Alice, an expert in elephant behavior. Alice is married to fellow elephant expert, Thomas Metcalf, who operates an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire — and shares her views about elephant behavior, especially their grieving rituals.

In succession, Jenna contacts a psychic, Serenity Jones, and Virgil Stanhope, the police officer who investigated the incidents at the Metcalf elephant sanctuary that included the disappearance of Alice Metcalf. Jenna has studied the journals of her mother, a scientist who investigated grief among elephants. Jenna hopes that the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

I won’t say anything more about the plot of “Leaving Time.” Read it yourself and prepare to be surprised at the ending.
About the author

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers “The Storyteller,” “Lone Wolf,” “Between the Lines,” “Sing You Home,” “House Rules,” “Handle with Care,” “Change of Heart,” “Nineteen Minutes,” and “My Sister’s Keeper.” She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

For an Oct. 17, 2014 video of her being interviewed on CBS: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/leaving-time-jodi-picoult-on-new-book-writing-and-family-life/

Her website: http://www.jodipicoult.com

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Reviewer’s Note: Elephant preservation was the subject of a novel, “The Roots of Heaven,” by French author Romain Gary, made into a movie in 1958, starring Errol Flynn (in his last major role), Juliette Greco and Trevor Howard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXYdyDqZDxI. I’m going to see if I can find the movie, which I saw many years ago. Along with another movie that I love, one made in the 1970s, “Save the Tiger,” it’s far ahead of its time.

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