|Life with Beau: A Tale of a Dog and His Family by Anna Quindlen|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: As Beau nears the end of his life Anna Quindlen looks at what he has meant to the family and what they have learnt from him. In the hands of a lesser writer it could be trite but it's elegant, witty and with a real eye for detail and social nuance. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 96||Date: March 2008|
Bristol's Beauregard Buchanan, Beau to his family and friends, is an old dog when we first meet him. Whilst Anna Quindlen is at the vet's collecting his prescription Beau is sleeping on the rug in the foyer. The rug smells. Beau smells and he has little sight or hearing, but then he's nearly fifteen years old. He's reached that stage in an older dog's life when there's no point in his going to see the vet (he certainly doesn't want to go there ever again, after what happened to his prostate…) and the next house call will be the last.
You've just reached for the box of tissues, haven't you? Well, don't. Put them away. There is sadness in this book, but it's overwhelmingly about the joy of having a dog around the house. It's a wise book. Quindlen reflects on the dog that Beau was in his youth, when nothing and no one was safe, about how he would escape and she would chase him through the street of Manhattan, with passers-by directing her as to which way the black dog had gone. As an adult he was the dog that central casting might have sent, four-square and strong, the perfect black Labrador.
It's not just about Beau, though. It's about what he taught the family of enjoying life, rolling with the punches, and living for the present rather than in the past or for the future. In the hands of a lesser writer this could all become trite or cloyingly sweet, but it's far from that. The writing is elegant, witty and with a real eye for detail and social nuance.
It will, of course, appeal mainly to dog lovers, particularly because there are some fine black and white photographs of dogs on just about every double-page spread. I was expecting pictures of Beau, but these are few and far between. Instead we have pictures from seven different professional photographers who have all caught the essence, the personality of a particular dog or dogs. I thought they might distract from the text, but they added to it as I looked at the pictures and pondered what I'd read.
The book struck a deeply personal note for me. We have an 'older dog', a Rhodesian Ridgeback who has been on borrowed time for the last four years. It's helpful to think that a time will come when you are keeping your best friend alive for your sake and not for theirs, to know that there is a luxury with an animal that is not given to a sick or elderly person marooned in some limbo between illness and death. Ultimately it's the fact that one of the most basic of rights of any living being is the right to be left alone, not to be treated. And then you must celebrate the life and the friendship that has been given to you.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of this wonderful book to The Bookbag.
If you enjoyed this book then I'm sure that you will also enjoy the writing of Nora Ephron. For a less-polished but no less heartfelt look at the joy and sorrow of dog ownership try I Have Heard You Calling In The Night by Thomas Healy.
Life with Beau: A Tale of a Dog and His Family by Anna Quindlen is in the Top Ten Books For Dog Lovers.
You can read more book reviews or buy Life with Beau: A Tale of a Dog and His Family by Anna Quindlen at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Life with Beau: A Tale of a Dog and His Family by Anna Quindlen at Amazon.com.
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