If there is one thing I want to say about this book it is read it. I don’t think I have ever read a memoir in one sitting but I genuinely could not put this down. I even read it while eating my dinner!
This is a story of Jeremy Keeling – a man who co-founded Monkey World in the UK. Many people have probably seen an episode of Monkey Life or Monkey Business, which has been airing on British TV for a number of years now on various channels (Animal Planet, Channel 5 and now Sky!) and this book is his story of how the monkey sanctuary was founded and the uphill struggle it was. It’s a story of love, human nature and, not only is it a personal story it also gives a look in to how conservation has changed in the last 30-40 years.
We follow Jeremy from his early years, growing up on his family zoo where it was commonplace for the puma to have a room in the house and a bear in the outhouse! The story meanders through the pitfalls of his life, the periods he was living out of his car and working odd jobs to the point where he met Jim Cronin; a kindred spirit. From here we read about the birth of Monkey World. From Monkey World we follow the story in to present day, through the devastating loss of Jim and the incredible rescue of 88 capuchin monkeys from Chile in 2008.
At times this is heartbreaking, others it is laugh out loud. The stealer of the show is, of course Amy. Amy the orang-utan which Jeremy himself hand reared. If she could speak I think she would have some incredible stories to tell. He saved Amy and, one day, Amy saved him. It’s just incredible the bond that he has, not just with her, but with all of the other apes and monkeys he encounters daily.
I read this in one sitting. I lost an afternoon because I just could not put this down. It may not be a masterpiece but what I have taken out of this book, it made me laugh and it made me cry. For that reason alone it deserves a 5/5 from me.