1945. Dresden, Germany. Lizzie, her mother - and an elephant from the zoo, flee the Allied fire-bombing in the end-game of the Second World War.
Escaping the Allies' advance from the West - and also the advancing Russian armies from the East - this extraordinary trio of refugees meet: a downed RAF officer, cowering in a barn; a homeless school choir on the run and their Countess saviour, harbouring them from the Nazis; and the mechanised American cavalry, appearing over the horizon.
It is Lizzie's story - but Marlene, the elephant, is theheroine. Plodding, obdurate, opportunistic, load-bearing, indestructible, cheering - Marlene embodies the stubbornness of the human will and how it will do everything to survive.