Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Men and Dogs
Publisher's Summary. When Hannah Legare was 11, her father went on a fishing trip in the Charleston harbor and never came back. And while most of the town and her family accepted Buzz's disappearance, Hannah remained steadfastly convinced of his imminent return.
Twenty years later Hannah's new life in San Francisco is unraveling. Her marriage is on the rocks, her business is bankrupt. After a disastrous attempt to win back her husband, she ends up back at her mother's home to "rest up", where she is once again sucked into the mystery of her missing father. Suspecting that those closest are keeping secrets--including Palmer, her emotionally closed, well-mannered brother and Warren, the beautiful boyfriend she left behind--Hannah sets out on an uproarious, dangerous quest that will test the whole family's concepts of loyalty and faith.
Review. Nothing good ever happens in an instant. Think about: tragic accidents, medical misfortunes; devastating break ups – these all occur in an instant. They are the “before and after” moments. The events that require that all that succeed the instant in question be reflected through the prism of before and after.
For Hannah Legare, in Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch, her before and after moment occurs at age eleven when her father took his boat out to go fishing and never came back. Even though his body was never found and there was no indication that he committed suicide he was presumed dead. Hannah, however, has never accepted this conclusion because she needs answers. She has spent her adult life looking for remnants of her father in the faces of strangers and leaving men, either physically or emotionally, before they can leave her.
Flash forward twenty years, Hannah is thirty five and a mess: her marriage is falling apart and her business is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. When Hannah is sent home to Charleston by her husband Jon, after her latest infidelity and drunken attempt to win him back, she makes one last attempt to find the answers she so desperately needs. In a parallel story, her emotionally distant, gay, brother Palmer is also haunted by his father’s death and, although not searching, needs a few answers of his own. Rounding out the cast are Hannah’s pleasant, but superficial mother and stepfather, Daisy and Will Dewitt, and her old high school boyfriend, Warren Myers and his mother Virginia. Hannah turns to each character seeking clues to her father’s disappearance. Because for her going back is the best way to move forward.
I listened to Men and Dogs on an audio book and found the story to build slowly, but eventually drew me in. The narrator of the audio book perfectly captured how I imagined the character in question would speak. This was particularly important as the novel is more character driven as opposed to plot oriented. Crouch does an excellent job of crafting rich characters with a deft mixture of humor and poignancy so that they are imperfect, but always interesting. The only criticism I have is that the ending seemed a little haphazard and unsatisfying.
For a rich Southern story, Men and Dogs fills the prescription.
Advance review copy provided courtesy of Hachette Book Group.