‘A story about love, loss and what it is to be human’
~ Dog Days
[ About the Book ]
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.
[ My Review ]
Dog Days by Ericka Waller will be published March 11th with Doubleday Books and is described as a novel ‘featuring an unforgettable cast of characters, joyous, heartbreaking and wise. A novel about being human, making connections and discovering life off the leash…’
I received a copy of Dog Days some time back but I only picked it up last week and was completely taken by surprise with the depth of my reaction when reading it. Dog Days is not just a cute read about a bunch of random people and their lovable four-legged friends. It is much much more. Everyone reading this book will be impacted in some way by the wonderful characters that Ericka Waller has chosen to fill the pages with. Beth Morrey, author of the gorgeous Saving Missy really encapsulates Dog Days when she describes it as ‘a Russian doll of a book that twists and tugs each outer husk, revealing delicate and poignant inner layers…a soulful, lyrical tale that brings them – and their dogs – together in a satisfying whole. Such a treat.’
Dog Days primarily focuses on three individuals who are all at very different stages in their lives. George is a retired man who has just lost his wife, Ellen. She was sick but chose to keep her illness hidden from George until she could hide it no longer. George always was, and still is, a cantankerous old fart but, following Ellen’s death his obstinate ways develop into pure rudeness and anger that he directs at anyone who makes an attempt to assist him in any way. Ellen had just brought home a puppy, Poppy, before she died but George has no interest in Poppy. George has no interest in anyone or anything and it’s not long before his health starts to deteriorate. But a neighbour intervenes and, with pure dogged determination, George is given no option but to get on with life.
Dan is in his twenties. By profession a counsellor, Dan is wonderful at helping others with relationship problems, and life in general, but unfortunately Dan is not so good at looking after his own mental health. He has OCD, is a fitness fanatic and the singular love in his life is Fitz, his pet Labrador. Fitz asks nothing of Dan and Dan only asks that Fitz be his sounding board, someone Dan can confide in. Dan is struggling but a chance encounter with an unexpected client changes Dan’s life forever.
Lizzie is hiding away from the world in a woman’s shelter. Damaged and exhausted, Lizzie has had enough. She just wants to be in a place where no one asks anything of her and where she can keep her young son Lenny safe from the world. Lizzie is mentally and physically hurting but is unable to let anyone through this barrier she has built for herself, until Maud enters her life. Maud is the shelter’s dog and with daily walks being part of her routine, Lizzie is appointed chief walker. Lizzie balks at the idea of going down toward the beach and mingling with other people but is given very little choice. Lizzie has a secret that she just cannot bare to reveal. Lizzie is scared.
George, Dan and Lizzie are three beautifully created characters that will evoke all the feels in the reader. From George’s incivility and downright lack of a filter to Dan’s shyness and Lizzie’s traumas, all will conspire to expose your heart to emotions that will be difficult to keep in check. Ericka Waller has created a montage of stories that all cross paths in different ways, some subtle and some not so. Dog Days is a complex novel with many very thought-provoking and affecting themes all knitted together creating a most joyous and uplifting read. I did read a few chapters through blurred eyes as the tears welled up. Ericka Waller writes with such a lyrical pen that had me hooked from the powerful imagery of the prelude –
‘The grass does silent t’ai chi in a breeze that may adjust a hat to a jaunty angle, but would never be so rude as to whip it off your head’
I immediately knew that I was embarking on a very special journey indeed. Dog Days is a sentimental, exhilarating, uplifting and deeply moving novel about accepting the ebb and flow of life and about grabbing those magical moments when you can. We are only here on borrowed time and we need to use that time wisely and with as much joy in our lives as we can muster and as our circumstances allow for. There is comfort to be found in many different ways and there are people out there who genuinely want to help folk rediscover their smile, their joie de vivre. Dog Days encourages us to realise that it is okay to sometimes let our wall down and to let these people into our hearts. Dogs are obviously a feature of Dog Days but do not be fooled into thinking that this is a book about just dogs. There is so much between the pages of this book. It is an unexpectedly extremely heart-warming read with great depth and some very strong underlying messages. With fantastically depicted, and very real, personalities intertwined with a gorgeous tale, Dog Days is a book with a big heart and one you do not want to miss. Highly, and very warmly, recommended!
“One of the inspirations for Dog Days came from walking my own dogs. It’s this weird alternative universe – dog owners could by psycho killers, but we approach them alone on windy beacons, because they have a dog. Dog owners might be battered wives, addicts, cheaters, thieves.
I also wanted to use dogs to reflect how we, as humans, are consumed by things we cannot control or change. Dogs live from one falling leaf to the next. Their emotions are simple. I wanted to set them against the lives of three characters battling with real life issues such as depression, anxiety, OCD and grief.
I wanted to explore how people force themselves into a shape we can understand, that goes along with the stories we tell ourselves. I didn’t want to write a romance, but I did want the book to be suffused with different kinds of love: platonic, sexual, maternal.
I wanted to explore how women are perceived by other women and the way we need to force them into a shape we can understand, that goes along with the stories we tell ourselves. Everything is always about how it makes us feel, so we alter reality or bend truths to make them fit in how we need the world to be.”
– Ericka Waller
[ Bio ]
ERICKA WALLER lives in Brighton with her husband, three daughters and pets. Previously, she worked as a blogger and columnist. Dog Days is the sum of everything she has learned about love, loss and the healing power of dogs.