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Saturday, 21 April 2012

A Three Dog Life (Author: Abigail Thomas)


 

The Blurb from Amazon:

When Abigail Thomas’s husband, Rich, was hit by a car, his brain shattered. Subject to rages, terrors, and hallucinations, he must live the rest of his life in an institu­tion. He has no memory of what he did the hour, the day, the year before. This tragedy is the ground on which Abigail had to build a new life. How she built that life is a story of great courage and great change, of moving to a small country town, of a new family composed of three dogs, knitting, and friendship, of facing down guilt and discovering gratitude. It is also about her relationship with Rich, a man who lives in the eternal present, and the eerie poetry of his often uncanny perceptions. This wise, plainspoken, beautiful book enacts the truth Abigail discovered in the five years since the acci­dent: You might not find meaning in disaster, but you might, with effort, make something useful of it.


 


My Thoughts on "A Three Dog Life":

My sister lent me “The Book Thief” with the great recommendation that it was “the best book she had ever read”.  I read it, and she was almost right – I give it second place.  My sister lent me “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”, telling me that it was a real joy.  I hated it so much it’s actually one of those rare books which I couldn’t even finish, and swore not to feel guilty about doing so.  My sister lent me “The Faraday Girls”, assuring me it was a quick, easy, delightful read.  I finished it simply because I did after all feel guilty about abandoning “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” when it had been recommended to me by my sister, my best friend.  And so, when my sister lent me a bundle of books with no comments attached I approached them neutrally.   

In this way I came to “A Three Dog Life”.  I just finished it.  I wonder if there is a statutory waiting period before you can read a book again.  What I really want to do is book a plane ticket and fly off to Woodstock, to sit down with this amazing writer, Abigail Thomas, and just do nothing but perhaps chat and perhaps drink - red wine or tea, either would be good. 

This book is Abigail’s account of how her life did a 180 (no, not a 360) degree turn after her lovely husband, Rich, suffered massive head trauma when he was hit by a car while out walking their dog one evening in New York.  The life which they had imagined building together suddenly was swept away and Abigail created for herself an alternate life, a three dog life, that phrase being taken from an Australian Aboriginal description of a night that is so cold that it would take three dogs to keep you warm.  And, yes, she does end up with the warmth and comfort of three dogs. 

This book is so full of precious moments, little gems, that I have to buy my own copy – or maybe just forget to return my sister’s copy – so that when I go back to read it, as I will do very soon, I can underscore and highlight those pearls as I go, pearls such as: 

On getting older, “I just couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without the option of looking good.” 

On her husband’s constant need to move, ”No, no, and no.  Rich just needs to be moving.  And I ask myself what use is a destination anyway?” 

On living a life unexpectedly alone, “… my house doesn’t fit me anymore.  Maybe it’s because from here I can see into the empty kitchen, and then turn my head and look into the empty living room.  On either side are these uninhabited rooms, quiet, waiting, but only for me, and I can’t sit everywhere at once.” 

And then to come to the last page and read this passage, where she and her husband, in an almost lucid moment, are chatting, “I ask Rich if he knows how long we’ve been married. ‘About a year’, he answers.  I shake my head.  ‘Seventeen years’, I say, ‘we got married in 1988 and it’s 2005.’  “Abby’, he says, smiling, ‘our life has been so easy that the days glide by’.” 

It almost breaks your heart, but that would be impossible because this book is not a heart-wrenching, tragic tale of woe; it is a beautiful sharing of the funny and the sad, and definitely not written to glean pity or bring on feelings of despair.  A lovely, lovely book, and I wonder why my sister didn’t attach a comment to this loan. 


PS. I highly recommend you check out Abigail's website at:

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