We were young. We were in love. We were rollicking in those sublime early days of marriage when life seems about as good as life can get.
–John Grogan - Marley & me - c.2005 - pg1
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I’ve had this book on my shelves for years now. It was on sale for half-price when I bought it; that’s the only reason I own it in hardback. I much prefer paperbacks, more practical. Since I bought the book it has been made into a film and become even more famous. To be honest the film looked god-awful, so I didn’t bother to watch it. But I always knew I’d eventually read the book, and when better than on a lazy Sunday when I should have been cleaning the apartment?

I’m sure everyone knows the story. A newly married couple decide to get a dog, and so buy a labrador puppy, who grows up into the world’s worst dog. Only of course he isn’t the world’s worst, he simply has some bad habits. Very bad habits that include his destruction of numerous items. But at heart Marley is a sweet good-natured dog whose labrador-ish optimism teachers his owners all about life and, eventually, loss.

It is hard to review a book like this. If you are a dog-lover you’ll probably recognise many of the stories Grogan tells about his dog. Our family nick-named our half lab-half dalmation Destructo-dog because he ate so much stuff, and what he didn’t eat he chewed up into unrecognisable pieces. We’re also more than familiar with the lovely job of dog-poo scooping and the recognition of just what the dog has been at recently. Half-eaten crayons used to be a favourite of ours. He has outgrown that now, he limits himself to stealing food from the bin and hiding it in his bed until it has been devoured.

It is well-written in some respects, but could have been tighter and more focused. Then again I suppose it rambles and bit like Marley himself. It is a memoir of life with a dog rather than a memoir of the author’s life at that time. So some aspects are glossed over. His wife, Jenny, suffers from post-partum depression after the birth of their second child, but this is never really mentioned apart from when she feels that Marley’s destructive ways are too much and he has to go.

If you aren’t an animal-lover, well chances are you won’t even pick this one up, you probably won’t really enjoy it. I did, despite its overly-sentimental look at this badly-behaved mutt.

Other reviews: C’est la vie ; Musings of the mind ; Black sheep books

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