Today I’m delighted to take a step away from my usual crime reads to share my thoughts on Saying Goodbye To Tuesday by Chrissie Manby. When I read the blurb. for this I just couldn’t resist a read and my thanks go to Jenny Platt at Hodder & Stoughton for the early copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Stupendo the dog has died. But that’s just the beginning of his story.
To love and protect. The code of the good dog is clear. When single mother Tuesday took on mongrel pup Stupendo, she made a friend for life. Through the best and the worst of times, Stupendo has been there for her. Ever faithful, ever loyal, ever true. Nothing could break their bond. Until last week.
Stupendo doesn’t know why Tuesday is suddenly ignoring him or why his doggy antics no longer seem to soothe Baby William. It takes his worst enemy – the cat next door – to break the news that Stupendo has become a ghost.
Somehow left behind on Earth, Stupendo knows he has unfinished business. Enlisting the help of the community of animals in the neighbourhood, Stupendo must get to the bottom of the very human sadness that hangs over his old home and keeps him from saying goodbye to Tuesday.
You know what? I really flipping enjoyed this book. It’s made a refreshing change from all doom and gloom, and probably at a time when I need it most. Surprisingly, it’s not been a complete departure from my usual crime reads, although the links are very, very tenuous. There is a bit of a mystery at the heart of this story, albeit one which is not really going to get Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher all hot under the collar. From the start of the book there are two questions that really need to be answered. What took Stupendo away from his beloved Tuesday, and why hasn’t he been able to take that final step into his next life? Well, if you want to know the answers, then you are really going to have to read this book. And believe me, if you’ve ever owned a dog, or a pet of any kind really, it’s a book you will probably relate to.
The story is told from the perspective of Stupendo, and although the blurb tells you what to expect, I’m not sure that really conveys what a true joy this book is. Yes there are moments of sadness. Stupendo is a ghost, although he doesn’t initially realise it, and the sense of loss which goes along with the death of any pet is present throughout the book, but not in an overwhelming way. You get little glimpses of it in Tuesday’s reactions, her melancholy at times, but it really is only glimpses. There is more celebration of the wonderful relationship between the two of them and Stupendo’s endless devotion to his human and her son.
The thing which really worked for me in this book is the way that the author really has captured that kind of doggy personality in her portrayal of Stupendo. There is a slow intelligence, a determination and a loyalty in him which comes through in all of his thoughts and actions. Not only that but there is a whole cast of animal excellence on hand to guide him through his new circumstances, including Caligula, a neighbourhood cat, one who has a reluctant friendship with Stupendo, Merle the Blackbird and Napoleon the Squirrel. Then of course there are his friends from the park, including Zena, a German Shepherd, his very best friend and the object of his affections. Along with Tuesday, obviously. Each one of the animals has a distinct personality, each very fitting to the very spirit of their species, and all of which made me smile. Caligula especially – totally catish behaviour. There wasn’t a time when hearing the story told in their voices felt stilted or awkward. It all fit perfectly and really does touch the heart in ways you can’t expect.
The story is not all about Stupendo. There is an element of romance in the book too. Throughout the book we follow the life of Stupendo human, Tuesday, seen through the eyes of Stupendo, of course. From the day they first meet and Stupendo decides that she will be his human, through the highs and lows of her love life, the birth of her son, William, and Stupendo and Zena’s ill fated attempts at matchmaking. And beyond that this is a story of community as Caligula introduces Stupendo to his extended ‘family’ around the neighbourhood. This element of the story rang true, from the sense of isolation that so many of the characters felt, to the strange circumstances which led to a change of fortune for more than one of the residents of Stupendo’s street.
So what were Stupendo’s reasons for not passing over the rainbow bridge? Perhaps not entirely what you were expecting and trust me when I say there are one or two scenes which will have you as hopping mad as others have you grinning from ear to ear. Definitely a character in this book I’d have been happy to drop kick off a tall building. With a boot covered in spikes. Gah. Chrissie Manby has managed to create a slick, untrustworthy person you will love to hate, you just might not realise how much until well into the book. Thankfully they are a just minor distraction from all the beautiful and positive characters in the book.
And I’m happy to admit that by the end of the book, this cynical old boot was shedding a tear or two. No – it’s not a complete tear jerker of loss, but it would take a hard heart not to be touched by the final chapters. Any one who has ever lost a beloved family pet will totally get it.
Funny, romantic, full of brilliant animal (and human) characters and with a truly heartwarming story, I’d definitely recommend this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
About the Author
Chrissie Manby is the author of twenty five romantic comedies including A PROPER FAMILY HOLIDAY, THE MATCHBREAKER and SEVEN SUNNY DAYS. She has had several Sunday Times bestsellers and her novel about behaving badly after a break-up, GETTING OVER MR RIGHT, was nominated for the 2011 Melissa Nathan Award.
Chrissie was raised in Gloucester, in the west of England, and now lives in London. Contrary to the popular conception of chick-lit writers, she is such a bad home-baker that her own father threatened to put her last creation on http://www.cakewrecks.com. She is, however, partial to white wine and shoes she can’t walk in.
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