Dog Days by Ericka Waller

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Dog Days by Ericka Waller

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A novel about life-changing moments which only happen when we allow life to take hold of us - and it comes with added dogs. Brilliant. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: March 2021
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 978-0857527233

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George Dempsey is exceedingly angry. It's eight days since his wife, Ellen, died and it's the first time that she's let him down. He's lost, bereft without her ( he needs his wife, like a snail needs its shell). He misses their ordered life and rather than bringing him meals to leave on the doorstep, he'd much rather have a good row with someone. He's particularly angry about the dachshund puppy which Helen brought home just three weeks before she died. She even dared to contradict him when he told her that the dog wasn't staying. Now he's lumbered with a dog he doesn't want and a load of busybodies who are trying to interfere in his life. Worst of all is Betty, who won't take no for an answer. Betty knits jumpers for Lucky, her greyhound. Lucky spends a lot of time trying to escape from and destroy them.

Dan is a counsellor with OCD and his closest friend is his Labrador, Fitz. When Atticus comes to him as a patient he's initially reluctant. Atticus has been in therapy before and it's difficult to get to the bottom of exactly why he wants to try again or what the problem is. Worst of all, Dan has a nagging suspicion that he's attracted to Atticus - or perhaps it's just his pink loafers. Whatever - it can't be allowed to continue, can it? Dan's never been attracted to women but it's something else entirely to accept that you're gay.

Lizzie Robbins is living with her seven-year-old son, Lenny, in the women's refuge. The scars are healing but she's still reluctant to go to the police no matter how much Tess, the lady who runs the refuge, tries to persuade her. She doesn't mind how many of the cleaning jobs she's on the list to do but she's definitely not keen on the idea of walking Maud, the rather chubby Jack Russell Terrier.

Luke Williams is a teacher: in fact, he teaches Lenny Robbins and that's how he meets his mother, Lizzie. Luke - the man who is always in the midst of a new crush - is smitten. He has plans which he's quick to confide in his cousin, Dan. Dan and Luke are training for an Ironman Marathon - accompanied by Luke's Wolfhound, Wolfie and Dan's Fitz.

I laughed and I cried. I was going to say that no dogs were hurt in the telling of this story but that's not completely true. George is very unkind to Poppy in those first days after Ellen's death but she didn't hold it against him. Those were the days when He'd kill himself, but Ellen isn't there to do it for him. Still, he shouldn't have been nasty to Poppy: she couldn't help what happened. Ellen had done all she could to make the transition as easy as possible - to the extent of leaving letters for him where she thought it might help.

It's the healing power of the dogs who bring people together and give unconditional love. Dog Days deals with such sad events that you might be forgiven for wondering if you really need to take your pleasures this sadly, but ultimately it's one of the most hopeful, uplifting stories I've read in a long time, despite the fact that it completely eschews the happy endings you might be expecting. I'd like to thank the publishers for making a copy available to the Bookbag.

If books like this appeal to you we can recommend Waiting for Doggo by Mark B Mills and Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres. You don't want more dogs? Try Where We Belong by Anstey Harris.

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