Peter Augustus Duchene is a young boy who has been raised by a military colleague of his father's after his father dies in battle and his mother dies in childbirth. He is being raised as a young soldier -- living a life of deprivation and order. He has always believed that his baby sister Adele was stillborn and that he is alone in the world but when he visits a fortune teller in town, she reveals that his sister is alive and that he will be able to find her by following the elephant. The fact that there is no elephant in their Eastern European town seems like a sticking point but this is soon remedied when a visiting magician performs the greatest trick of his life and summons an elephant into the local opera house. From this point, it is up to Peter to find his sister and, in her arms, find home.
I will admit to getting tears in my eyes because of the hope and beauty in this book. It has been a long time since I felt such joy while reading. Even when things were bleak, there was a sense of everyday magic that flowed through the story. And I'm not alone. Laura of State of Denmark (where I first heard of this book) felt the same way in her review.
Leo Matienne cleared his throat, once, and then again. He opened his mouth, and spoke two simple words. He said, "What if?"
The magician raised his head then and looked at the policeman. "What if?" he said. "'What if?' is a question that belongs to magic."
"Yes," said Leo, "to magic and also to the world in which we live every day. So: what if? What if you merely tried?"
What if, indeed,
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