The Elephant in the Room

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
166 Pages
Reviewed on 02/02/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Delene Vrey for Readers' Favorite

The Elephant in the Room by Simon Bardwell is a captivating story of the Second World War told by veteran soldier Tom Hope. It is unknown if this is a true event or not since Bardwell is a pen name with no reference suggesting with certainty that the events are factual. Tom is an old man residing in a hospice when he decides to write about the most peculiar operation he had to perform in 1942. Tom was put on leave in 1942 after he sustained an injury on the battlefield. Afterward, he was recruited along with Jane and Schmidt to join the SOE on a mission to find an elephant. Tom received no further information other than that he needed to find an elephant. The elephant was placed in a room with a German prisoner. A unique bond forms between the German soldier and the elephant over an old German lullaby. What is to become of them?

Simon Bardwell wrote The Elephant in the Room in a captivating manner. It starts off in the first person to clearly distinguish present Tom from 1942 Tom. The story is an easy read that captures your heart without you realizing it. I found the section where the German soldier and the elephant bond over the lullaby to be endearing and moving. The book will have you close to tears as you are drawn into the world of well-rounded and charismatic characters. Bardwell is considerate of his varied readers by censoring curse words. Bardwell has great potential as a writer with these anecdotal stories which leave you wondering if it is truth or fiction. He leaves the reader wanting more of these lovable characters. This is indeed a feel-good book that I can recommend without hesitation. This is a wonderful read. Absolutely loved it!

Pikasho Deka

The Elephant in the Room is a historical wartime novel by Simon Bardwell. Tom Hope is on the verge of death when his hospice nurse urges him to tell his story of the war by writing a memoir. As Tom begins, he recalls his life as a young RAF Spitfire pilot who had to leave the Air Force prematurely after a landing mishap. Soon after, Tom finds himself approached by a major from the War Office who recruits him for a classified project called the Alternative Warfare Enterprise (AWE). Tom travels to Scotland, where he meets his other team members, becoming particularly close to a young woman named Jane. Tom and his friends have quite a peculiar task on their hands. They must find a friendly elephant and use it to interrogate a German prisoner of war with enemy secrets.

The Elephant in the Room is a charming drama set against the backdrop of World War II. The book follows a young English pilot's foray into the world of espionage and the adventures he and his colleagues experienced along the way. There is a sense of light-heartedness to the story that leaves a smile on your face. Simon Bardwell's narrative never seems to take itself too seriously, as bouts of humor are sprinkled throughout the pages, along with a slight tinge of romance. The writing is crisp and concise, and the book's length allows it to be read in one sitting. Anyone looking for a wartime story with an optimistic ending should give this one a go.

Edith Wairimu

In the intriguing historical novella, The Elephant in the Room by Simon Bardwell, a hospice nurse encourages a former special agent to record his WWII experiences. After suffering injuries following a mishap during a return from a mission, Tom is reassigned from the Royal Air Force to the Special Operations Executive. He teams up with other agents to work on secret projects in a multi-roomed mansion in Scotland. The team is led by Major Askwith who introduces Tom to the rest of the group. Tom is especially drawn to Jane and they form a close friendship. The team receives notice of a special project involving a German prisoner of war who lands on British soil from Germany. Tom recounts the events that follow when the prisoner arrives and his friendship with Jane.

The work succeeds in bringing together a colorful set of characters with different personalities. The main character is fully formed and I enjoyed the story’s exploration of his thoughts and perspective. I appreciated the light-hearted moments included which balance the story’s dark setting. The work is vivified by Tom and Jane’s friendship which is well-developed. I loved the scenes involving Elsa the elephant and the role she plays in the story. I enjoyed the twists included and the story’s unexpected and emotional ending. The Elephant in the Room by Simon Bardwell is a captivating story with surprising twists and a compelling main character. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy Tom and Jane’s friendship and the SOE’s secret activities.

Bernadette Longu

In The Elephant in the Room by Simon Bardwell, during World War II both sides were trying to find ways to get information from prisoners of war and coded messages. The organizations within the main organization that controlled this is something that was unknown. The author offers one of the more humorous sides to an interrogation.

The Elephant in the Room can be taken literally as well as figuratively. This story takes place in 1942 and the main characters are Tom, Major Phillips, Jane, Major Askwith, Bob, Clive, and Schmidt, with Ivan the cook, plus Zelda the acrobat who is the caretaker of the baby Indian elephant, Elsa. The setting is a castle/mansion in Scotland. Of course, no names of places are mentioned so it could be really anywhere in any part of England. The author tells the story of Tom in the most wonderfully gentle and humorous way.

This is a marvelous story. Simon Bardwell takes the reader on a delightfully humorous journey from the first to the last page. The narrative weaves in and out of the lives of the main characters with twists and turns that at times are humorous and at times frustrating and sad. The ending is the most unexpected that a reader can ever imagine but it brings the story to a close that is poignant, sad, and lovely at the same time. I enjoyed this book very much.

Melanie Kennedy

The Elephant in the Room by Simon Bardwell is a World War II story with a twist. Tom is a former pilot in the Royal Air Force forced out of duty due to a routine landing gone wrong. Fearing his service in a time of war could come to an end, he receives an official letter summoning him to a mysterious meeting. Soon Tom is recruited into the Special Operations Executive and specifically the Alternative Warfare Enterprise. which would end up being the weirdest job he ever had. Their first task is to interrogate a German prisoner and uncover his secrets. The only catch is they can’t use torture, lest they violate the Geneva Convention. So they need to get creative. And you see, that’s where the elephant comes in.

Simon Bardwell has written an extremely funny novel about the absurdity of war. Set in World War II, Simon’s witty and enigmatic writing is a highly enjoyable story of the politics and mischief the British military most certainly engaged in. His accurate portrayal of wartime and the hare-brained schemes of counter-intelligence is reminiscent of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and I thoroughly enjoyed this satirical novel. Simon’s characters pulled me in from the start and toward the end, I was completely invested in their stories. As a war novel, I couldn’t possibly expect a happy ending for everyone, but I had my hopes. Simon Bardwell explores Tom’s relationships throughout the novel and the ending is sweet and poignant. I utterly loved The Elephant in the Room and would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone looking for a witty and heartfelt story.