Jill is a wonderful author, articulate and engaging, with a prose which is so calming as to be almost hypnotic. Her slow-burning short tales and novella are not actioners, nor even particularly dramatic, but they are engrossing and charming. With a strong element of emotional morality and an even stronger one of melancholy, all feature a prominent animal welfare message. Jill’s writing is gritty and real, with no attempts at any kind of sensationalism. They are also, at times, infuriating and joyless. But, if you know where to look within them (and within yourself) you can take the greatest reward from the smallest details, and the payoff will be a hugely gratifying one.
Jill writes about the particularly hopeless and wretched – underclasses, with an air of decay and degeneration about them. Yet, you find yourself rooting for the virtuous, even if their lifestyles are less-than-moral; looking beyond the surface, you will find empathy with our fellow creatures: the dogs and cats which are the real supporting cast in this book. With their unconditional love, heart-wrenching loyalty and naïve, sad optimism, they are the perfect foil to the hopeless, wasted lives of their human counterparts, with their lifestyle dependencies on welfare and the production of illegal drugs. There are less harmonious moments, to be sure, and Jill makes no attempts to hide her contempt for the more apathetic of the human species, who mistreat and profit from the degradation of defenceless animals, but for the most part, the relationship between these vastly different actors is poignant, and ultimately uplifting, even when it doesn’t end well. The moments told from the point of view of the dog can be particularly heart-breaking.
To its credit, this book is not necessarily about good or bad, but rather about the emotional interactions between and amongst the species’ – it is underpinned by small victories and the heroic acceptance of loss; ultimately, life goes on, but all the better for having loved and been loved. Jill nails this perfectly – I’ve never read an author which can contrast human and animal life the way she does, nor their emotional interactions. Although bleak, and at times depressing, these tales offer a unique property: the warmth that dogs, cats and other furry family members can bring to our lives. Each story is all perfectly timed; just the right length to read at leisure in any situation, and to say what they need to say, in Jill’s calm, understated manner. The novella draws you in and keeps you cosy, until you both know, mutually, that it is time to move on.
Nobody could do this book better than Jill; if you love your animal friend, you’ll absorb it, and you’ll adore this author’s caring heart. I have no doubt there is more than a small share of autobiography in the tales of “The Dog Thief…” – I certainly hope so, because I need to think there are real people like her out there.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: dogs dog-rescue animal-rescue animal-welfare short-stories jill-kearney fiction