The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Family Album, by Penelope Lively

I loved this book, but I don’t have a lot to say about it. Part of the problem is that there is a big twist, which I believe most readers will figure out, and assorted smaller twists. Together, they prevent much discussion of the plot.

However, the plot is not the driver in this book. Rather, it’s the characters. And they raise many,  many questions. Charles and Allison are parents to six adult children, five of whom either moved as far away as possible and/or never visit. Then there’s the nanny-for-life, Ingrid, who is still around despite the absence of children or grandchildren. So Allison may prattle on all she wants about family and how she adores little ones, but something went wrong if they never visit. Right?

Here’s a representative quote:

“[W]hen this spring morning gets up momentum there are nine at Allersmead, none of them more than a yard or two from someone else, but all poles apart within their heads, their hearts.”

Sounds like a dysfunctional family to me! It quickly becomes clear that Charles is only a sperm donor/financial support type of father, and I spent the entire book trying to figure out what he and Allison might have ever had in common beyond procreation. Their Christmas gifts are ridiculously inappropriate, further proof they don’t know each other at all.

Lively somehow manages to give each of the six children a distinct personality, so that I quickly felt like I knew them. Most of them take a turn at narration, which could be distracting but which Lively manages splendidly.

As for animals, there are dogs (the book is set in England, of course there are dogs) and small children in the flashbacks aren’t always kind to spiders and the like. But overall, this book is SAFE for animal lovers. Enjoy!


February 5, 2011 - Posted by | beach book, Book Reviews, families, Uncategorized |

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