The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
Upon the sudden and mysterious death of his wife, a heartbroken linguistics professor embarks on a mission to teach their dog, Lorelei, the only eye witness, to speak in order to piece together what happened and why. In the days and weeks that follow, Paul Iverson begins to notice strange 'clues' in their home that suggest nothing about Lexy's last afternoon was quite what it seemed. Reeling from grief, Paul is determined to decipher this evidence and unlock the mystery of her death. But he can't do it alone; he needs Lorelei's help. So he begins an impossible endeavor: a series of experiments designed to teach Lorelei to communicate what she knows. Perhaps behind her wise and earnest eyes lies the key to what really happened to the woman he loved. As Paul's investigation leads him in unexpected and even perilous directions, he revisits the pivotal moments of his life with Lexy, the brilliant, enigmatic woman whose sparkling passion for life and dark, troubled past he embraced equally.
This book wasn't anything I was expecting and not really in the good way. The journey Paul takes to deal with his grief is the central theme and while Lorelei, the dog, is a main character, her involvement is really a sub-plot in the overall novel. Personally, I felt the book got a bit weird and maybe it's because I've never dealt with grief to the extreme of losing a significant other, but I didn't understand/feel/grasp/jive with (whatever you want to call it) the process the author laid out. Not that anyone's process would be the same as another's but it felt too contrived. And seriously, I felt like I was beat over the head with the symbology (apple tree, snakes, death masks, etc.). It was all just too much for me. The final straw was *Spoiler Alert* having Lorelei harmed when she was dognapped. The whole secret society angle was super creepy and the weird 'scientific' experiments were too much for me to think about. I don't need happy-ending dog/animal books by any means but the experiment angle was too much torture for me and really detracted from the book.
As you can probably tell, I didn't really enjoy this book :). I would probably recommend it just to see what someone else thought about it and to have a conversation about differences or agreements, but I can't recommend it on the merits of it's story. In fact, my copy is now making it's way to the secondhand bookstore (which if you've ever seen my in-home library, that says something!).
And yes it really is a national bestseller......
Check out the other books I've reviewed:
Dog is My Co-Pilot
When Elephants Weep
Scent of the Missing
Tell Me Where It Hurts
Little Boy Blue
Pawprints of Katrina
Hit By a Flying Wolf
What the Dog Knows
A Small Furry Prayer