Sometimes you get the feeling that the publisher is playing a game with a reader; in this case guilty of a 'bait and switch'. This book's promoted on the jacket, in the title, in the subtitle as a book that centers on World War Two. That's pretty misleading since the war doesn't touch on the story until after page 200 of a book that runs under three hundred pages. The story of 'Elephant Bill' is strong enough without the war. In fact, I'd argue the real strength and beauty of this book was in the first half which centers on the relationship between the young British apprentice, his seemingly wary superior and a young male elephant. Croke extracts real pathos from this isolated group working together in the jungles of Burma. By the time Croke arrives at the Japanese invasion of Burma it's as if she's in a rush. While she took her time building characters the first 200 pages, she then switches gear and rushes through the war years in the last 80 pages of the book. It makes for an unsettling change of speed which tested the firm foundations she'd already laid.