I Thought You Were Dead
Algonquin, 2010 (2010)
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Reviewed by Bob Walch
aul Gustavson shares everything with his best friend. Whether it is his father's medical problems, Paul's own impotency issues, the fact that his wife has walked out on him, or the financial mess his brother's bad advice has created for their parents, Paul tells Stella everything.
er long sleek legs, kind eyes, and lustrous blond hair belie the fact that Stella is also a good listener. She doesn't necessarily say a lot, but the questions Stella asks and the observations she makes about Paul's life, family and friends keep him grounded.
heir conversations also serve to balance the advice Paul receives from cohorts at his favorite watering hole - the Bay State Bar.
ike any true friend, Stella doesn't judge Paul. She is the sounding board that allows Paul to voice his frustrations, confusion and dismay about how his life is going. And, most importantly, Stella offers good advice and gives Paul her unconditional love.
ome would say Stella knows Paul better than he knows himself. But then perhaps, that's not too far from the truth. The aging Lab-shepherd mix has been Paul's companion for quite some time. She's heard all his complaints about the unfairness of life and silently witnessed many of her master's successes and failures. So who else has the right to claim to be this man's best friend?
alking animals sometimes are a
for readers, although I don't think, in this case, Stella's commentary will have a negative impact. There are enough human characters in the story that Stella's voice doesn't dominate the narrative.
n fact, there are times you might wish this sentient pooch actually played a larger role in the novel and had more to say. Even if you don't care for dogs or pets in general, I believe you'll still find Stella an acceptable and likeable character. And, if you do own a dog, cat or other critter, admit it - you do talk to it from time to time!
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