My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by ScribnerSource: My own copy
'"I fell in love with a prideful, tense bundle of muscle and sinew that stood seventeen inches high. You would see a small brown dog; I saw perfection."
So begins the story of Kate Jennings's unexpected love affair with two border terriers, first Stanley, then, a few years later, Sophie. A fiercely intelligent writer, an astute observer of people and her surroundings, a recent widow not ready to face her grief, an irascible Australian with no time for indulgent New Yorkers and their pampered pets, Jennings falls hard. She is swept off her feet, stunned by the depth of her love. Her life is suddenly overtaken by Stanley and, when she is seduced into getting him a companion, by the pair of them.
But after several years with her willful yet cherished dogs, Jennings came to the heartrending realization that they needed more than she could give -- and that she must reassess her own life, too. First and foremost, "Stanley and Sophie" is a book about dogs, understanding them, doing the best by them. It is also a vivid chronicle of Jennings's grief and sadness -- for the loss of a husband, for the city after September 11, for two pigtailed macaques in Bali, for a world going to hell in a handbasket. This is a bittersweet and darkly humorous memoir about the way two rivalrous, demanding, idiosyncratic, exhilarating dogs gave Jennings daily purpose and showed her the way to her own heart.'
This wasn't at all what I expected. Maybe I'm just not a memoir kind of person but I was after a happy story about the life of the author with her two dogs. Instead I got a story about a person who couldn't cope with her two pets and gave them away on a whim so she could go travelling around the world instead.
All I kept thinking through the whole book was 'Stop complaining about giving the dogs away. You shouldn't have done it in the first place!'
Plus another thought constanly kept coming to mind 'Have you never heard of obedience training or making some other type of effort to fix the behaviour of a dog rather than just giving them away?'
All in all I don't really have much that's positive to say about this book unfortunately. It just frustrated me to no end and I was always left feeling that there just should have been a bit more to it.
If you're after a story of a person dropping everything in life to try and find herself, then this is a story you might like.
As much as I love animals I probably shouldn't allow myself to read books like this where pet ownership is explained from other points of view. My pets are like fur children to me who I have committed to owning, therefore have committed to the good and bad times that come with that. I just get too angry when I see instances where other's don't feel anywhere near the same.