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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


A Tale of Two Lions

Roberto Ransom

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To purchase A Tale of Two Lions

Title: A Tale of Two Lions
Author: Roberto Ransom
Genre: Novel
Written: 1994 (Eng. 2007)
Length: 115 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: A Tale of Two Lions - US
A Tale of Two Lions - UK
A Tale of Two Lions - Canada
  • Spanish title: Historia de dos leones
  • Translated by Jasper Reid
  • With several drawings

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Our Assessment:

B : appealing ideas, but underdeveloped

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The LA Times . 18/2/2007 Susan Salter Reynolds
The NY Times Book Rev. . 28/1/2007 Alexander McCall Smith

  From the Reviews:
  • "A Tale of Two Lions calls to mind the sparkling playfulness of Alexander Calder, Monty Python or Italo Calvino." - Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times

  • "(W)hile Ransom's book is charming, it is perhaps a bit too brief to explore its theme of lions lost and found. (...) It's all very whimsical, but that, of course, is what a picaresque novel can be." - Alexander McCall Smith, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       A Tale of Two Lions is a three-part miniature about two elusive lions. The first part is epistolary, Count Lorenzaccio writing several letters to his sister, whom his wife has gone to visit. The first letter begins dramatically enough:

     I'm writing to warn you: Cattino -- the cat who is soon to arrive at your house with my wife -- is really a lion.
       It's not so much that the Count and his wife have been trying to pass off a lion as a cat (or vice versa), but rather that the animal seems to have something of both in it. And while the airline willingly checks the cat in, it's apparently the lion that escapes in the hold; either way, Cattino is lost in transit, and never makes it from Rome to New York, going on a rather more extensive global tour instead.
       The second part is set in Kenya, where a different sort of lion is centre-stage: apparently stuffed and on display, there's more to it as well. Jeremiah Jones, who works close to the lion, wonders why there's no bullet hole anywhere on the body of the animal that was supposedly felled with a single shot, and why its eyes are so life-like. Pasha, as he calls the lion, may stand completely still all the while, but it too disappears inexplicably (though his boss suspects and accuses Jeremiah of stealing him).
       A final section bring the two lions together, in yet another setting (with the Countess disappointed that she can't take her Cattino back ...).
       There's quite a bit of charm to the fantasy, spun out in its different directions, and some clever invention around the elusive lions. But A Tale of Two Lions feels incomplete, like variations on ideas re-told as bedtime stories for a child and then cobbled together to make this 'novel'. The bits are fine, and sometimes very good -- the Count's marital difficulties and concern, Jeremiah's creative "fantasies" ("reproducing Pasha's image in all sorts of materials"), the circus, and, especially, the lions themselves. But it remains too insubstantial, as if Ransom was afraid (or in too much of a hurry) to flesh it all out.

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A Tale of Two Lions: Reviews: Other books by Roberto Ransom under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Mexican author Roberto Ransom was born in 1960.

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