A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam

Release Date - September 2013

Soho Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

As A Beautiful Truth was set in Vermont and Florida, I found myself intrigued with Colin McAdam's latest novel. Part of this came from a documentary I watched years ago about a Canadian sanctuary created for rescued chimpanzees. The Fauna Foundation is a real place, though last I knew they do not welcome visitors so as not to stress the chimps. I can't find the name of the documentary, but I'll update if I can find it.

Now to the novel. The Vermont setting takes place not too far from me. A Vermont couple, unable to have a child of their own, adopt a chimpanzee named Louee. Eventually, Louee grows up and attacks his owner and a friend (search Travis, a chimp in Connecticut, and the victim/Charla Nash). At that point, the couple have no choice but to send him to a sanctuary in Florida. There Louee is suddenly thrust into a world where he is surrounded by monkeys instead of humans and adapting isn't easy.

I wanted to love A Beautiful Truth, but in the end, I really only liked it. The story makes frequent switches between characters, so you have to pay attention to who is talking. At times, humans are telling the tale, but at others the viewpoint shifts to the chimp. Having all the shifts made it hard for me to relate to anyone in the novel.

While I admit this is nitpicky, I also found myself struggling with the premise because owning a monkey without express approval from the state commissioner is illegal. I know of a man who was arrested and charged for having a baby alligator. I've never heard of anyone getting permission to have a monkey, and as people can't even have a hedgehog, I highly doubt a monkey would ever be allowed. Knowing that, I found it hard to believe Louee would have ever ended up in the state to begin with.

In the end, I appreciate the author's story, but the delivery simply didn't work for me.


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