ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Dog Days by Ericka Waller
I’m sharing my thoughts about the wonderful Dog Days by Ericka Waller today. My thanks to Tabitha Pelly from Doubleday for the proof copy of the book for review purposes.
George is very angry. His wife has upped and died on him, and all he wants to do is sit in his underpants and shout at the cricket. The last thing he needs is his cake-baking neighbour Betty trying to rescue him. And then there’s the dog, a dachshund puppy called Poppy. George doesn’t want a dog – he wants a fight.
Dan is a counsellor with OCD who is great at helping other people – if only he were better at helping himself. His most meaningful relationship so far is with his labrador Fitz. But then comes a therapy session that will change his life.
Lizzie is living in a women’s refuge with her son Lenny. Her body is covered in scars and she has shut herself off from everyone around her. But when she is forced to walk the refuge’s fat terrier, Maud, a new life beckons – if she can keep her secret just a while longer…
Dog Days is a novel about those small but life-changing moments that only come when we pause to let the light in. It is about three people learning to make connections and find joy in living life off the leash.
Well……I wasn’t expecting that! I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from Dog Days but I think it was the depth of emotion and the lack of sugar-coating that surprised me.
We begin with three very separate stories. George has just lost his wife, Ellen, and without her to keep him upright he is on the verge of collapse. Dan is a counsellor who meets someone in a session who is about to change his life forever. Lizzie lives in a shelter with her son, wondering how she can move on with her life when she has lost everything. With Ericka Waller’s expert guidance, these three stories become very gently intertwined, sometimes in an obvious way and sometimes more on the edges of the characters’ narratives, but either way I thought it was executed brilliantly.
Maybe one of the things that surprised me about this book was that some of our main players are not actually that likeable. George, in particular, is actually a rather unpleasant man, and yet Waller had me sympathising, empathising, and welling up over him. Lizzie is not always easy to take to, despite her back story, but I felt there was more to her than met the eye. Dan, however, is the antithesis of this. I thought he was a delight in every way, although his story had me sobbing quietly to myself whilst reading in bed at night.
I must mention the doggy element. There are so many dogs in this book and the author ensures that each one has its own distinctive personality and purpose. Every one is there to help to heal their owner and I loved them all.
Dog Days is a beautifully written book and it’s very hard to believe it’s a debut novel. It’s full of feeling, emotion and tenderness, it made me laugh and cry, it made me despair and it made me happy. Ericka Waller peels back the layers of life and delves deep into the highs and lows of mental health, of loss, and of love. I thought it was simply pawfect.
Ericka Waller is 38 and lives in Brighton with three daughters, too many pets and a husband.
She is an award winning blogger and columnist.
When not writing she can be found walking her dogs, reading in the bath or buying stuff off eBay.