Title: Born Free
Author: Joy Adamson
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Conservation, Memoirs, Nature
Dates read: 3rd – 15th January 2021
5th sentence, 74th page: It was evident therefore that after having camped here for three months we try to choose a better home for her.
‘In the back of the car were three lion cubs, tiny balls of spotted fur, each trying to hide its face. They were only a few weeks old and I took them on my lap to comfort them. The third cub was the weakling in size, but the pluckiest in spirit. I called her Elsa, because she reminded me of someone of that name.’
With these immortal words, conservationist Joy Adamson introduced the world to Elsa the lioness, whom she had rescued as an orphaned cub and raised at her home in Kenya. But as Elsa had been born free, Joy made the heartbreaking decision that hte mature lion must be returned to the wild, despite the incredible bond they shared.
Since the first publication of Born Free in 1960, and its sequels Living Free and Forever Free, generations of readers have been inspired and moved by the remarkable interaction between Joy and Elsa. Here is the chance to discover the full story in this 50th anniversary edition, in the words of the woman who walked with the lions.
I’ve been meaning to get to this book for a very long time. But it just seems to be sitting there, gathering dust. Which meant that I really needed to sink my teeth into this. Born Free is one of those books that I have picked up and put down more times than I can remember. Which made me very, very glad when I finally put aside the time to actually read this and experience the wonderful world of Elsa.
I’m incredibly glad that I read this novel. It’s definitely one of those stories that needs to be read at least once. And I found the journey of Elsa enthralling and fantabulous. However, I didn’t necessarily love Adamson’s writing. It was just a little… lacking. Which made it harder and harder to get into the tale. Particularly after the point in the story in which Elsa dies. It’s interesting what happens with her cubs, but I just didn’t feel that attached.
As someone who has done some work in conservation and read many, many reports on relocation, rewilding and releases, it was intriguing to read about one of the first cases of releasing a wild animal. The trials and tribulations which Adamson and Elsa went through are not only fascinating, but you can also see some of the mistakes that were built upon in today’s exercises.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. And, because of the awesome content, one that I would suggest to others. But it wasn’t the kind of book that I will pick up again and again. I won’t give away my copy, but I also won’t be diving to pick it up again.