Saturday, February 3, 2018
BOOK REVIEW: THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE by Diane Ackerman
Norton, W.W.& Co.
The true story of how the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands. When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw--and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina *Zabi*nski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the *Zabi*nskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants--otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes--and keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her.
While the style of Ackerman's writing is a tad slow, the story itself is both delightful and inspiring. I loved the description of the zoo and its animals. And learning about all the different people who were saved because of Jan and Antonina's bravery was amazing. I only wish the narrative wasn't quite so straight forward and omniscient. But that is Ackerman's choice, and the story is remarkable. I can't wait to see the movie, which I have never seen.