The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti, by Annie Vanderbilt

This is another one of those books that came to me by means I don’t recall, though I suspect it was when I was looking for another book. I read so much that I have to follow these odd little paths off to the side.

Madame Olivetti is a typewriter. So really, this book is about Lily, a middle-aged widow who travels to a home in France that she inherited through her late husband’s family. There, Lily writes her family history, including light and frothy parts, serious parts, and everything in between. The stories are more serious than the cute cover and Lily herself would lead a reader to believe. Vanderbilt has written a series of linked vignettes, including two of Lily’s lost loves, infidelity, death, the joys and frustrations of marriage, and thwarted ambition. There’s also a fair amount of sex and, to my great annoyance, several characters with the same names. Like I’m going to read this in one sitting so I can tell which Paul is which, or I’m not going to have to reread a paragraph to determine which Justine Vanderbilt is talking about? Vanderbilt doesn’t even go with “old Justine” or “young Paul” or nicknames. This was an entertaining book, but it wasn’t compelling, and the name issue put my nose a bit out of joint. So I’m going to give this a provisional recommendation: it’s a good beach book if you want something light but not completely frivolous, and if the name overlapping doesn’t bother you as much as it bothers me.

As for animals, there is a cat character, Alonso, who catches and eats birds (referred to, not shown), and who Lily worries about at the end. Her late husband, one of the Pauls, raised cattle. There are wild birds, a cooked rooster, the occasional dog, horses, elk, mice, and insects. The book is UNSAFE for bird lovers, but probably SAFE for other animal lovers.


January 23, 2010 - Posted by | animals, beach book, birds, Book Reviews, cats, dogs, families | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the warning! 😉

    Comment by Manon | January 23, 2010 | Reply

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