MARLEY & ME
Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog
[Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2006]
ISBN 0 340 92209 5
[Reviewed by Vikram Karve]
The essence of this book is encapsulated in the ruminations of the author after he buried his beloved dog Marley: “Was it possible for a dog – any dog, but especially a nutty, wildly uncontrollable one like ours – to point humans to the things that really mattered in life? I believed it was. Loyalty. Courage. Devotion. Simplicity. Joy. And the things that did not matter, too. A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbols mean nothing to him…A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not.”
We have a dog – a Doberman called Sherry. We have given her our hearts and she has given us her unconditional loyalty, devotion and love. She never demands much. A walk in the morning, a walk in the evening, a bit of playing, a meal, a bit of baby talk and cuddly love, and she fills our moments with her natural spontaneous exuberant devotion, warm affection, zeal and joy. It’s true – in order to understand the art of living completely one must keep a dog at least once in one’s lifetime.
In this wonderful book the author describes his thirteen-year “love affair” with his Labrador retriever Marley, who enlivened the life of a young married couple, shared their moments of happiness and grief, and ensured there was never a dull moment in their family life. Marley certainly wasn’t the “perfect adorable model dog” – in fact, the author calls Marley the “world’s worst dog” who won their hearts with his faithful devotion and wholehearted love.
The first person narrative lends an air of authenticity and intimacy to the story. The friendly, simple writing style makes this book an easy read foe all ages. In the preface, he describes his delightful childhood days with his dog Shaun who was his faithful companion from when the author was ten years old for fourteen years till the author completed his college education and moved on to work. Shaun was a perfect dog who set the standard by which the author would judge all other dogs to come. Having set such a high benchmark, it’s no wonder the author calls Marley the “world’s worst dog”!
I will not delve on Marley’s story. You and deprive you of the pleasure of discovering it yourself. If you are a dog lover and have been a dog owner you will chuckle in your mind’s eye as you read about the naughty antics of Marley and recall similar frolics by your very own dog. If you have never kept a dog and are thinking of doing so then you’ll get an idea of what to expect! Marley’s life story makes one thing evident – once a dog comes into your home, he will soon win the hearts of your entire family and friends and change the way you look at life forever.
Narrating the trials and tribulations owing to Marley’s sometimes exasperating behavior, interspersed with the story of his own family life including the spats with his wife due to Marley, the moments of happiness and pain the shared with Marley, and the hilarious episodes like the one when Marley was kicked out of the dog-training obedience classes, John Morgan writes in racy style which will keep you engrossed – once you start reading you will laugh, you will cry, at times a flood of emotion will engulf you; but you will remain captivated – the book is “unputdownable”.
Just like it happened to the author, the pressures of work may separate my darling dog Sherry and me for the first time since she came into our lives one and a half years ago. She has become such an inseparable part of my life. I dread to think of what is going to happen. Can I live without Sherry? Where will Sherry live? I wonder if there are any boarding kennels or dog-sitters here in India, especially at Pune. How will my dear Sherry cope without me? And what will I do without her? Sherry and me, we both will be heart-broken. I pray to God that something will work out for the better and Sherry and I will always be together. Dear Friends, do pray for us.
I loved reading “Marley and Me” and commend this superb book. If you are a dog lover you will enjoy every moment of this enthralling tale. Even if you are not a dog lover you will love this mirthful, moving story of Marley and his family. At times, tears may well up in your eyes. This delightful memoir reminds us that like Marley, we must all live our life to its fullest and, most importantly, we must learn to love people unconditionally, like dogs do. Read this heartwarming book, give it to your children and you’ll be surprised how much a dog can change your life for the better and how much we humans can learn from dogs.
Reviewed by Vikram Waman Karve