I’m not one to read any Oprah Book Club books, but when it was selected for my wife’s book discussion group, and when I learned that it was a pseudo retelling of Hamlet, and that it involved the relationship between a boy and his dogs, I figured I would give it a go. If nothing else, the supernatural events in the book would keep my interest, I thought.
In the end, I was pretty caught up with the story and the book. I’ve been known to show more empathy for animals than humans, so seeing the relationship between Edgar and Almondine (as unrealistic as some of that relationship seemed to me at times) was something I could relate to and understand. That alone kept me reading, even when the story got to be really slow. And it got really, really slow during Edgar’s exile. I sort of wanted to give up on it at that point, but I was already more than halfway through the book, and my wife was encouraging me to finish it so we could talk about it.
In the end, I didn’t finish the book in time to discuss it in my wife’s book club, but I did eventually finish it, on New Year’s Eve. I figured that it would be a good idea to finish the book in the same year in which I started reading it, and I had started reading it back in November. And while I really enjoyed the relationships, and was impressed with the narrative and language that the author used in the book, I was incredibly disappointed with the ending. It’s depressing as hell, so it’s not a book I would recommend reading while on the second floor of a building, unless it doesn’t have any windows. It made the entire effort of reading the book seem pointless, and I hate feeling like that. It wasn’t quite as bad as the ending to Son of Rosemary, but come on; you have to make a concerted effort to be worse than that.
I don’t really know if I would recommend this book or not. I might feel differently if I had participated in the discussion, and had an idea of what topics were discussed, but when I finished it and said to my wife how depressing the ending was, she agreed, and we didn’t talk about it much more than that. It was just such a let down, for both of us, I think.