The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Eating Heaven, by Jennie Shortridge

Who wouldn’t want an Uncle Benny in their life? He was warm, funny, generous, and attentive to his nieces when they were little girls, and he remains that way now that they’re adults. They needed someone like Uncle Benny in their lives when they were small, because their father was a grumpy, cold-fish sort, and their mother was self-absorbed and somewhat neglectful. So the Samuels girls continue to love Uncle Benny, and when he becomes terminally ill, food-writer Eleanor Samuels — the protagonist of Eating Heaven — moves into Uncle Benny’s home in order to care for him. Isn’t that nice? Except Uncle Benny isn’t really an uncle. He’s the man with whom their mom had a prolonged affair, or so the girls suspect.

The truth about Uncle Benny is a prominent and intriguing subplot in Jennie Shortridge’s story about Eleanor’s journey of self-discovery. And really, this book is about who we choose to love, why we choose to love them, and why we sometimes love people in spite of what we know about them. (I especially like that last part, because I’ve always thought the “in spite of” test was the best indicator of true love.)

I’m a new fan of Shortridge’s. I don’t know if she’s written anything else, but I’ll be looking into that. I thought her characters had great depth, her plotting was excellent despite a few too many coincidences, her sense of place vivid, etc. Having watched my father’s final days last May, I was particularly taken with her descriptions of dying — it was as if I’d given her a checklist of symptoms and behaviors that she then incorporated into a narrative. On another note, with Eleanor being a food writer who cooks quite a lot, there are some of “her” recipes at the end of the book. I like that — if your characters are going to keep going on and on about how great the spice cake is, give me the recipe for the spice cake!

So this book comes with a strong recommendation. As for animal lovers, there is an animal character, a cat named Buddy. Shortridge uses Buddy to amp up the tension a few times, but animal lovers shouldn’t worry about reading this book, which, in keeping with the purpose of this blog, I am declaring SAFE.

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February 7, 2009 - Posted by | Book Reviews, cats, food, pets, recipes | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. What a lovely and thoughtful review! Thank you so much. I have indeed written other books: Riding with the Queen, Love & Biology at the Center of the Universe, and coming Nov. 2009, When She Flew. I hope you enjoy them too!

    Comment by Jennie Shortridge | February 8, 2009 | Reply


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