Saturday, April 05, 2008

Shaggy Muses: Book Review -Pet Rescue Magazine April 2008

Shaggy Muses by Maureen Adams 3 ½ paws out of 5

Animals have been immortalized in art, song, and story, and Shaggy Muses is a fascinating exploration of how dogs inspired several of the greatest women writers in history.

The book explores the dogs that belonged to Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton, and Emily Bronte, in five mini-biographies that are beautifully written and entertaining. Author Maureen Adams brings to light the quiet roles these dogs played in their mistresses’ lives vividly with exquisite detail.

Anyone who has been touched by the companionship of a dog will find parallels to their own relationships when reading about Flush, Keeper, Carlo, Linky, Grizzle, Pinka, and the other dogs portrayed in the book. As author Adams explains “…they were ordinary dogs, not especially heroic, beautiful or intelligent. Ranging from scruffy mongrel to spoiled lapdog to ferocious guard dog, they simply acted, as Robert Browning said of Flush, “As dogs do.”” However, these dogs were privileged to be part of the solitary world of some of the most influential writers of our time, and in doing so bring us a little closer to understanding their owner’s genius.

The chapters can be read separately or as a complete novel, and are woven together from pieces of diaries, letters, and other accounts collected by Adams. The text is punctuated with lovely illustrations, photos, and selections of works that were dedicated by the writers to their pups.

Even if you aren’t fond of the work of these authors, you will be a fan of the amazing stories of how these writers bonded with their pets. Indeed, some of these dogs pulled their owners out of the depths of depression, showed them how to love, and taught them about family through their loyalty and clever antics.

Shaggy Muses is an enjoyable read that presents a unique perspective on the craft of writing as well as the human animal bond. It is a definite must for your literary shelf.

(Special thanks to Leah Gatti at Chapters South Point for her fantastic help!)

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