I was an English major in college, but not one of those high-falutin’ intellectuals looking for symbolism and political subcontexts on every page. I liked to read. I liked to write, so I majored in English and did a good bit of each in college.
I like books about people. No, not biographies, but books that invite his into the lives and hearts of people — ordinary or extraordinary. I’m drawn to stories — to characters — to themes of friendship, personal growth, internal or external struggles. I know that’s why memoir has quickly become my favorite genre. I enjoy a great character-driven novel in the same way (if not more).
Hannah’s Dream by Diane Hammond is this sort of novel. Hammond delicately deals with the human experiences of love, lack of love, loss, hope, duty, growing up and growing old.
And when I this is a character-driven novel, let me go one step further and say that this book is full of characters — Max Biedelman, a sort of androgynous woman who lived in the early twentieth century; Harriet, the director of the zoo which Max founded, who taps into the confidence and spirit of Max as she tries to find acceptance for herself and financial success for the zoo; Sam Brown, a man who has given his life and his heart to two women, his wife Corinna and the elephant Hannah.
Sam has spent the last forty-one years of life caring for Hannah, at the dying wish of Max Biedelman, but he is old and sick and needs to retire. He just can’t do it until he finds someone who will properly care for Hannah as he has done. Will that person be Neva, the new elephant keeper that Harriet has hired? None of the others have worked out, but Sam sees signs in the beginning that she just may be different.
This book reminded me a bit of another book dealing with an elephant (Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which I enjoyed), and also Life of Pi, which delved a bit into the debates about zookeeping. However, this novel is not the result of an author trying to jump on the bandwagon of the popularity of books about animals (Marley and Me also comes to mind, though I haven’t read that one).
No, no, Diane Hammond has her own reasons for telling this story. Tomorrow in our Books on Screen column, the author will be writing about her work with the real whale upon whom the movie Free Willy was based and how it helped birth this novel (updated: here is a link to that column).
I loved this story, and if you enjoy stories such as I’ve described, I think you’ll enjoy it too.
We have three signed copies of Hannah’s Dream to give away. Please leave a comment if you’d like to win (U.S. addresses only), and we’ll announce the winners next Wednesday.
This giveaway is closed.
Managing Editor Jennifer Donovan is a contributing editor at 5 Minutes for Mom. She has been blogging at Snapshot for over two years. You’ll almost always find her holding either a book, a fork, a child’s hand, her laptop, or some combination therein.
Bev Iyoha says
This seems like a very touching story. Thanks for the contest.
This sounds like a really good book. Thanks!
kari f says
Thanks for the chance, looks like a great read!
kari f says
Im also a subscriber!
Renee Jobe says
Please add me, I love to read!
Hannah’s Dream sounds like a wonderful book. I’ve read Water for Elephants twice, I enjoyed it so much. I’m like you…I love a novel that pulls you into a character’s life. Those are the novels I remember for years.
Christina Almond says
Sounds like a wonderful book! I’ve really picked up on reading recently and would love to read this one!
tim brown says
THANK YOU GOD BLESS
Linda Moeller says
Pick me please
Peggy Doty says
Enter me please.
Gaye McGill says
This sounds like a special kind of love story. I’d love to read it and pass it along to others who would appreciate it too.
Sounds wonderful, count me in!
Jana (sidetrack'd) says
This sounds like a great read. I would love to win a copy, but will definitely look for it at the library if I don’t. Thanks for the review and a chance to win!
John Mizell says
I would like to read this book
Thank you for the great review!! This sounds like a wonderful book!!! Would love to read it!!
Thanks so much!
Sharon Trimble says
This book sounds interesting. Would love to read it.
Paula S says
Sounds like a wonderful book!
Patricia Wagner says
Sounds like a book I would enjoy.
Jaime C. says
Please count me in! Thank you!!
Please enter me.
L Knott says
Love to read-had not heard of this book. Thanks for the chance to WIN!!
Renee G says
I’d love to read a copy of this. It sounds interesting.
sounds great 🙂
william causey says
please count me in
R Hicks says
CANT WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON IT
I’d like to win! Thanks!
Jacqueline O. says
Pick me, I wanna win
Elizabeth M. says
What an incredibly interesting character mix. Sounds fabulous!
Pat Connors says
I would love to win this. Thanks for the chance.
Amy W says
I too like books that take me into the life of a person. This sounds great!
I would love to read this book
Marion B says
Looks like a good book to read!!
Erma Hurtt says
Sounds like a good book.
Elizabeth Baer says
I love reading. Please enter me!
Karen P says
Thanks for the contest ~ have a great Monday.
g. l. penrod says
Mariann Hudson says
I would love to win this – sounds like just the sort of book I need to get myself back in the reading habit!
Thank you for the opportunity!
Annie G says
Please and thank you!
Would love to win!
Thanks so much for chance to win!
Heather B says
Sounds like a great read thank you for the opportunity!
Linda Pinto says
This sounds like a book I want to read as soon as it comes into my hands. I like a book with well drawn characters and I love stories with animals at their core. Now I really want to know what happens to Hannah.
I would love to read this…thanks for the chance!
Vicki Wurgler says
thanks-sounds like a wonderful book
Mary B. says
Ruthann Rhodes says
sounds like an author and book I’d enjoy. Thanks for sharing!
Lauren Woodward says
I would like to read this book. I need a new book to read and this sounds really nice.
I hope to win!
Valerie Mitchell says
I would love to win 🙂
Kathryn Kahumoku says
This sounds like a great read!