Joy Adamson Phoebe-Lou Adams - Essay

Phoebe-Lou Adams

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Born Free] was such a delight that it is disheartening to have to report that its sequel, Living Free …, is no better than most sequels. The story of Elsa's cubs and her life in the wilds is told by Mrs. Adamson with the same simplicity and affection that characterized the first book …, but circumstance has introduced an element of fraud.

While the orphaned Elsa was being raised by the Adamsons, and later trained to live as a wild lion, the presence of her human companions was right and necessary. Once she had been turned loose, however, and particularly when she had cubs which she wished to keep out of sight, the presence of the Adamsons with their cameras and notebooks inevitably became an unnatural intrusion. In order to oblige her readers, Mrs. Adamson was obliged to badger her lioness. There was no other way to write Living Free, if it was to be written at all, but the idyllic charm of the first book could not be recaptured under these subtly hypocritical conditions. (pp. 187-88)

Phoebe-Lou Adams, "Diary of a Lioness," in The Atlantic Monthly (copyright © 1961, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass.; reprinted with permission), Vol. 208, No. 5, November, 1961, pp. 187-88.