Cover Illustrator : Finn Campbell-Notmann
Rated : 8 Stars
Dogs like to talk. We talk all the time, non-stop.
–Matt Haig - The last family in England - c.2004
Also published as The Labrador Pact.
I really had no idea what to expect from this book, it was simply sitting with the returns at the library and looked vaguely interesting. Plus I follow Haig on twitter despite having read only one of his books, The Radleys.1 So I picked this up.
It is such a good book. But there is something in it that may put off some readers, I’ve even seen a review on Goodreads where someone rated it 1 stars because of this event, yet they didn’t read the whole book. But it is a spoiler, so I don’t want to give it away. Show Spoiler ▼
I loved it, even though it is terribly sad. You can get a good feel for it by reading the first few pages.
It is a story about one dog and his family, and the things he will do to keep them safe. For that is a Labrador’s purpose you see, to protect the family and as long as he lives up to his obligations, everything is in a Labrador’s control. He simply needs to find the correct way to help them. He has that power. But it is also a heavy responsibility, and one that Prince, our narrator, feels lies heavy on him. Especially since the new neighbours moved in and Adam, his owner, is soon spending more and more time with Emily.
It is such an unusual book. All about modern life and relationships, as well as families and how they manage to survive, sometimes how they break apart. But it also has a whodunnit mystery in the middle of it, as well as asking questions about what we expect of our dogs.
I also recognised the name Falstaff as being a Shakespeare reference, and one of the children is called Hal, but I never read or studied those plays so I’m afraid I have no frame of reference2 for whatever allusions Haig was making there.
As I may have said earlier, I really enjoyed this one, and I’d urge you to give it a go. I’m certainly going to read more by Haig, and soon.