Only the Animals
Author: Ceridwen Dovey
To anthropomorphize or Not to anthropomorphize? Ceridwen Dovey’s novel, Only the Animals, is a collection of very clever short stories with animal narrators. Each animal narrator is owned by a famous person in history that has been famous for talent and goodness (Tolstoy) or evil (Hitler) or the animal is present at a momentous historical event (the Western Front, Sarajevo). Each animals tells its own life story and the story of its friends and relatives from its own perspective, and it is obvious Dovey has done her homework. Each species (camel, mussel, elephant, etc. is authentically drawn. The stories are funny, sad, poignant and/or joyous or evil – the characters are quirky and strange, as Dovey speculates about how animals create the emotions we try so hard to avoid.
Virginia Wolff, Hitler, Collette, Pearl Harbor, Tolstoy: these people and historical events place the animals within their own tale in history. I wish I could say that I enjoyed them; mostly, I did not. I believe that Dovey has created a novel that will attract many readers for her writing is genuine and well done; I don’t have a reason that I didn’t adore this novel.
The polarity of good and evil and the juxtaposition of animal to human and human events has been told many times, and although each of these characters allured me into their worlds, I found the sheer “cleverness” annoying. It was like there was a cartoon bubble over the author’s head at the end of each story stating (hope), (evil), (love), (loyalty),(good) and (aren’t I clever.)
My favorites were Somewhere Along the Line the Pearl Would be Handed to Me (Soul of Mussel) and Hundstage (Soul of Dog). This is a short story collection that has funny and strange moments and is well worth reading. Again, a lovely collection that did not grab my heart but will probably grab yours.
Review by Broad “A”
We received a product to facilitate our review. All opinions are our own
- You can pick up this book on Amazon.com here: Only the Animals: Storiesor at a bookseller near you.