The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Third Angel, by Alice Hoffman

I would hesitate to call myself an Alice Hoffman fan, because my reactions to her books have varied quite a lot. But The Third Angel came highly recommended, and so here we are.

This is the typical Alice Hoffman in that it seems to have been crafted by an expert — beautifully written, in other words. I also loved the structure of this book, written in three segments that can be read in any order with a few characters that overlap in surprising ways. I do think reverse chronological order is the best option, and that’s the way the book is laid out. This was a sad book about love and loss, but I liked that the three protagonists move on with grace and compassion.

The first story, set in 1999, is about Maddy, who falls for her sister’s fiance, Paul. But Paul has darker secrets than his unfaithfulness, and Maddy finds herself allied with Paul and her sister in ways she couldn’t have anticipated. Going back to Freida, in 1966, we find a smart, rebellious, and heartbreaking young woman with a conscience. I really can’t say any more than that. Finally, in 1952, the protagonist is a child named Lucy. And Lucy bears witness to a tragedy, for which she blames herself. This will send you flipping to the beginning of the book, but Hoffman spares us from the need to reread the entire thing just to figure out what it was we read the first time. Lucy’s life improves in an improbable way, but this is fiction written by a master, and we will allow Hoffman a few improbabilities here and there. I am recommending this book.

The purpose of this blog is to tell those who don’t want to read about animal violence or neglect whether they can read certain books. Despite a few unhappy moments, this book is SAFE for animal lovers. Animals of note include a book-within-a-book heron, and a rabbit that lives in a hotel.

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August 22, 2009 - Posted by | animals, Book Reviews |

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