Have you read Elephant Walk by Robert Standish

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Elephant Walk by Robert Standish

I decided to begin an early spring clean, I know it’s not Spring here in Australia but it had been a while since I had dusted my bookcase so last week was the time. Naturally I became side tracked once I got to the highest shelves. My eye’s are not so great these days so I can use that as an excuse for not being able to read the titles of the books way up at the roof line. One of the books I found was Elephant Walk by Robert Standish. My copy said it was first Published in August 1948.

I can’t remember how old I was when I first read the novel but I have had it on my shelves for at least 4 decades, it’s battered (so well read) with very yellow, brittle pages. I only keep the books I love and cannot bare to part with. Reading about far away places, their cultures, romance and illicit affairs all in another era is always interesting. Combine that with a raucous parrot (named Erasmus) and disturbing descriptions of the usual ignorance by man when it comes to the world’s wonderful animals, makes great reading.

Colonial tea planter John Wiley, visiting England at the end of World War II, meets and marries lovely English rose Ruth and takes her home to Elephant Walk, Ceylon. Ruth’s happiness in the tropical luxury of her new home is marred by it’s isolation and being the only white woman in the district. Ruth’s realises her husband is not quite as he seemed in England, he is still ruled by an over-bearing yet dead father. He has an arrogance fuelled by a mutual physical attraction with plantation manager Dick Carver. Always simmering in the background is the ominous menace of the hostile elephants. The local elephants have a grudge against the plantation because it blocks their migrating path.The elephants end up destroying the plantation in a stampede along with a fire. Ruth is a real heroine as she is a strong and smart woman while the descriptions of the splendid old bull elephant were poignant and very real. It’s an easy read, nothing heavy with good life lessons, as the characters try to find themselves and accept who they are.

I enjoyed the film but I’m not sure it lived up to my imagination after reading the book. You can still by the book online, it’s worth a read.


About the movie:

Elephant Walk is a 1954 Paramount Pictures film, directed by William Dieterle, and starring Elizabeth Taylor, Dana Andrews, Peter Finch and Abraham Sofaer.

Based upon the novel Elephant Walk by “Robert Standish”, the pseudonym of the English novelist Digby George Gerahty (1898-1981).

Elephant Walk was several weeks into production when the film’s original leading lady, Vivien Leigh, was replaced by Elizabeth Taylor (you can still see Leigh in a few long shots). Based on a novel by Robert Standish, the film casts Taylor as Ruth Wiley, the new bride of solemn plantation owner John Wiley (Peter Finch). At first thrilled at the prospect of living in the wilds of Ceylon, Ruth rapidly becomes a beautiful bird in a gilded cage. When American overseer Dick Carver (Dana Andrews) arrives on the scene, Ruth falls in love. Before she can leave her husband, though, the region is devastated by cholera. Making things worse, the local elephants go on a rampage, destroying her husband’s mansion, which his father had maliciously built in the middle of the pachyderm’s ancient right of way. Fraught with sexual symbolism, Elephant Walk works on a high-gloss soap opera level. The climactic stampede, however, is disappointingly filmed on a studio interior set, robbing what should have been a rousing climax of much of its credibility

See more about the movie: www.allrovi.com

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