Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment
|Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment
|Category: General Fiction
|Reviewer: Sue Magee
|Summary: A gorgeous book which flies past all too quickly. Read it and love it. Honestly.
|Date: September 2015
|Publisher: Pushkin Press
|External links: Author's website
Ruth and Alex Cohen have to move from their beloved New York apartment. They love it, but it's five floors up and there's no elevator. Reluctantly they're having an open day for prospective purchasers - and hoping that they'll be able to buy something not too far out which has that elusive elevator. It's not just them, either. There's Dorothy. Dorothy ('Dottie' to those who know her well) is their Daschund. She's getting on in years, but then so are Ruth and Alex. Then - the day before the open house - two things happen. An unmarked petrol truck is blocking the city's main tunnel and there's no sign of the driver. You don't even need to have long memories to worry about terrorists in Manhattan. Then Dottie yelps in pain and she can't stand up.
I loved this book. Well, I did when I wasn't crying. Let me explain. You see it's only a matter of months since we lost our beloved dog and Jill's Ciment's telling of Dottie's story in her own words captures so perfectly what Dottie is going through and how she views what's happening to her. I always worry when I hear that part of a book is going to be narrated by an animal - it's usually so twee, but there's none of that here: Dottie is a very clear, very rational voice - and I wept with her.
I empathised with Ruth and Alex too: ageing is never kind, but Ciment doesn't make them into doddery old fogies. They might have their ailments, need a hearing aid, or not be able to see much without their spectacles, but they've got all their chairs at home. When there's a terrorist scare it's a good time to go apartment hunting in New York as prices tend to drop, but then you don't get so much for your apartment. On the other hand, if there's a terrorist scare in another city, prices aren't affected to the same extent. If you've sold your apartment (or think you have) and there's a scare in New York, is it wrong to hope that it really is a terrorist you're hearing about in another city so you'll have to pay less? Tough decisions.
The story's well observed. I loved the idea of the medicine cabinet with three shelves: one for Ruth, one for Alex and one for Dottie, who had as many medications as Ruth or Alex. Then there was Alex's disinclination to waste a Viagra tablet. No, I'm sorry - you'll have to read the book for yourself. It's a book that I whizzed through (when I wasn't crying) and I came to the end far too quickly. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
We've also enjoyed Act of God by Jill Ciment.
If you would like more about New York we can recommend Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York by Gail Parent. For more about dogs, have a look at Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley and our Top Ten Books For Dog Lovers. You might also enjoy The Man With The Overcoat by David Finkle.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment at Amazon.com.
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