HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: A Dog’s Life
Author: Peter Mayle
Illustrator: Edward Koren
Publisher: Vintage, republished in 1996
ISBN-13: 978-0679441229 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0679441220 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0679762676 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0679762671 (Paperback)
Related website: http://www.randomhouse.com/ (publisher)
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Older teens and adults
Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Mayle, Peter. A Dog’s Life (published in 1995 by Alfred A. Knopf Inc., New York City, NY; republished in 1996 by Vintage Books, a division of Random House Inc., New York City, NY). Boy is a dog of uncertain origins and dubious hunting skills. In his memoirs, he recounts his life from birth, in which he was one of thirteen, through his abandonment by his mother and then his original owner, to his adoption into the house of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Mayle. Mayle (born June 14, 1939) is a British author who started off by writing educational books. Subsequently he relocated from England to France in the late 80’s but his plans to write a novel were altered when he set down an account of life in his new environment. This resulted in his 1989 book A Year in Provence which became an international bestseller, chronicling his first year as a British expatriate in Ménerbes, a village in the southern département Vaucluse. Several more books detailing life in Provence, France, followed, including Toujours Provence (1991), Hotel Pastis (1993), and Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France (1999).
The story of Boy’s adoption into the Mayle household is told in Toujours Provence, but, as Publisher’s Weekly says of A Dog’s Life, “Mayle’s novel purports to be a confessional autobiography-of the author’s dog, Boy.” The book is humorous, but not without its faults. As you can imagine, there are several instances of drinking alcohol, even to the point of being drunk. As to language, not only are there mentions of cursing and “ripe language,” but also the “d” and “h” words are said occasionally. It is not really a story for children. While there is nothing overtly lewd or vulgar, a number of veiled sexual references occur, most of which would be over the heads of many kids but understood by adults. In addition, some statements like, “I was even offered safe sex with a Rottweiler,” “the role of the condom in modern society,” and “telephone sex” are found, so that a lot of parents would probably not feel comfortable reading it to their families or letting their youngsters read it. Older teens and adults might find it interesting. The last chapter contains “Notes on the Human Species,” which are somewhat insightful.