Women dating Læsø
Of course, the pair couldn't get away with such outrageous legerdemain, and only escaped professional chastisement by being diagnosed as suffering from stress.But they have not abandoned their heterodox ways, and by the time of the novel's opening they have disappeared - a disappearance which national police and security forces have to follow up.
The Elephant Keepers' Children partakes substantially of tragi-comic farce.It cannot be a coincidence that there is a large-scale ecumenical conference imminent in Copenhagen.Peter, his clever sister Tilte and his brother Hans are sure their parents intend to subvert it.Satire, wild shenanigans, desperate chases, mistaken identities, a corpse popping up at just the wrong time, pursuers and pursued: all succeed each other at inordinate speed, holding the attention (though sometimes occasioning puzzlement).Høeg's other great gifts are his ability to seize on a galvanising central image and his interest in individuals at the margins of society.In competition with all the spiritual tripping around them, the pastor and his organist/inventor wife decided, before the novel's action begins, to make church services more dramatic, more in tune with the miraculous supposedly at the heart of Christianity.
When the words Holy Spirit were read out from the New Testament, lo, an actual white dove descended; on a windless day its members heard a rush of wind at the mention in a sermon of the Angels of Revelation; puffs of smoke emanated from graves in the churchyard.
For their benefit its inhabitants wear folk costume and drive about in horse-drawn traps, with the main town closed to ordinary traffic in summer.
Half the population works in fishing (langoustines and turbot) or with boats, the rest in service industries.
Høeg's powers of sympathy are shown in The Elephant Keepers' Children by his handling of his narrator, with his touching identification with his local team, Finø FC, and his open love for his two siblings.
If his voice can be too determinedly jocular, it is also both attractive and compelling.
Many of us, but especially ideologues like church leaders, carry inside us the elephant of belief, a creature too enormous and unwieldy for ordinary living.