A book starring dogs? Of course, I had to review it!
The Dog-walking Club
by Liz Hinds
Every dog walk brings new drama into the lives of these dogs and their people. A supermarket shelf-stacker, a stay-at-home dad, an elderly widow and a freelance photographer sound an unlikely bunch of friends but they have one thing in common: they all walk their dogs in Beauville Park at roughly the same time each morning.
And that’s enough for Angela, bored organiser without a cause, to get them together to form the Dog-walking Club.For Jock the Scottie, Benji the spaniel, Pixie the boxer, Mitzi the poodle and Bassett the … all sorts, walking each day with their friends is a dream come true. And it changes the lives of widowed Sybil who’s spent a lifetime hiding her secret sorrow, hopeless-with-women Jon who’s wandering almost unwittingly into an affair, freelance photographer Jemma who is at every wedding but her own, and Maggi who is frantically trying to save money to visit her family in Australia.
And for long-suffering Angela a nasty shock turns into a new start in disguise for her and her husband – and their love life.
I’m a golden-retriever-loving granny, who enjoys walking by the sea or in the woods, who eats too much chocolate and gets over-excited when the Welsh team plays rugby.
Writing-wise, I am an experienced freelance writer – published in The Guardian, Christian Herald and various other magazines and newspapers – with an MA in Creative Writing (Trinity College, University of Wales). My short stories have been published in Cambrensis (the now sadly-defunct short story magazine of Wales) as well as in several anthologies including Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe (Parthian) and Catwomen from Hell (Honno). I am also the author of several non-fiction books published by Hodder & Stoughton, Scripture Union and Kevin Mayhew.
I have self-published two novels, This Time Last Year, and The Dog-walking Club.
I enjoy speaking about my writing to various gatherings and the media, and am an active blogger, facebooker and tweeter.
My everyday blog: www.liz-and-harvey.blogspot.com
My writing blog: http://notanotherwannabewriter.blogspot.com/
Social Media Links –
Pinterest Not Another Wannabe Writer
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First up, isn’t that cover simply gorgeous? Let me say, the story is just as sweet. This really is a heartwarming story of the most unlikely friendships formed by a group of individuals who just happened to walk their dogs in the same park at the same time each day.
A truly gentle read that drew me in completely; relating to and caring for these people and their dogs was easy.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this story has so much more to offer than you might think. As different as the members of the club are, their common bond – their dogs – holds them together like glue. The friendships formed here span generations and class, yet none of that matters. What is important is that each one of them has a unique story to tell, and a unique dog to go with it.
Angela (originally seen as Lady Muck) and Mitzi the poodle were the founding members. Her affluent lifestyle took an about turn at Christmas, yet the new life she and husband Tony began brought them more riches than they could ever have hoped for.
The story of eighty-something Sybil and her elderly dog, Jock, left a lump in my throat as I read on misty-eyed when the inevitable happened. Although with constant, unquestioning group support, and a knack for making scrumptious cakes, she was never excluded. When she confided a secret past to Jon, little did she expect anything to come of it. She hadn’t reckoned on the group caring, let alone doing something about it. Aww!
Jon, house husband to Tilly and two daughters, is Benji’s human. Bogged down by domesticity, his head was turned at the school gates by a mum picking up her daughter. Looking for friendship, coffee mornings gave Jon something to look forward to, beyond doing the laundry and cooking. Poor Jon did have trouble reading the signs though. Oh dear! Luckily, Jon had others looking out for him when his home life looked threatened.
Maggi was saving all her wages from her job at the supermarket to visit her children in Australia; her dog, Bassett (all sorts of breeds, get it?) kept her company when she had no family close by to turn to. Bassett, known for an adventurous streak, never shied away from following his curiosity, getting into no end of mischief. It was Maggi kindness to a stranger that saw her later friendship with Bernard and his dog, Whisky develop. Their dating was adorable.
And finally, but no means least, there was Jemma and Pixie (the boxer on the cover) Her photography career blossomed with a never-ending demand for dog portraits, all borne from the very lovely idea she and Jon had to help Sybil get over Jock. As a single young woman, Jemma’s love life was a constant cause for concern for her meddling mother. Pixie was the catalyst in solving that situation, albeit leaving his mistress in a deep hole that required an airlift. Despite a broken leg, Jemma’s relationship with her rescuer, Claire was fated, with Pixie’s consent, of course.
All of human and canine life was in this story, along with very realistic funny incidents (speed-dating, Bassett’s adventure in the brambles in particular) and some heartbreaking confessions. But overall, I found here a genuine community of friends, looking out for each other through good times and bad. I’d happily take my two dogs to join this lovely group of people.
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