Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

This was the inaugural read for my very first in-real-life book club, and it led to some wonderful discussion.  It's the story of Paul, whose wife Lexy has died in a tragic accident.  She fell out of the apple tree in her back yard, leaving her dog, Lorelei, as the only witness.  In his grief, Paul decides that he will teach Lorelei to speak, so she can tell him exactly what happened.  His interest in uncovering the exact events of Lexy's death leads him to reexamine their relationship and his long-held beliefs about who Lexy really was.

Writing
I thoroughly enjoyed the author's style.  The narrator is certainly unreliable, which is a favorite quality of mine, and large portions of the book are ambiguous, which I also like.  The literary-ness of the book is something that was debated during book club, but I lean more towards the side that favors it as fairly literary in quality.

Entertainment Value
Again, there were differing opinions, but I was one of the ones who really loved it and enjoyed reading it.  That's not to say that it's a particularly cheerful or uplifting book, but it deals with emotion and particularly depression in a way that is so real I couldn't help but love it.  It's not always a page-turner, but I was so drawn to Lexy as a character that I couldn't stop reading.

Overall
I think it's definitely worth reading.  I loved Paul and Lexy's relationship and the way he opens up over the course of the book and begins to look at their interactions from a more balanced point of view.  The part about teaching the dog to talk was less interesting to me than the history of their relationship and how they came to the place of Lexy's death.

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