Books: The Lass Who Loved a Lion

THE LION (244 pp.) — Joseph Kessel— Knopf ($3.75).

"Had he pulled at my eyelids to find out what they concealed? I couldn't be certain about this." These titillating opening sentences promise events sinister, portentous or at least symbolic. But "he" turns out to be nothing more alarming than a pet monkey who had wandered into the visitor's hut in a game reserve in Kenya. The reader is soon introduced to the monkey's owner — a precocious ten-year-old girl who can converse familiarly with animals and gets no back talk.

Officially, Patricia is daughter of the game warden, a great, burly white hunter...

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