Review- Dog Days by Ericka Waller

‘DOG DAYS is a Russian doll of a book that twists and tugs each outer husk,
revealing delicate and poignant inner layers…a soulful, lyrical tale that brings them – and
their dogs – together in a satisfying whole. Such a treat.’

George is very angry. His wife has upped and died on him, and all he wants to do is sit in his underpants and shout at the cricket. The last thing he needs is his cake-baking neighbour Betty trying to rescue him. And then there’s the dog, a dachshund puppy called Poppy. George doesn’t want a dog – he wants a fight.

Dan is a counsellor with OCD who is great at helping other people – if only he were better at helping himself. His most meaningful relationship so far is with his labrador Fitz. But then comes a therapy session that will change his life.

Lizzie is living in a women’s refuge with her son Lenny. Her body is covered in scars and she has shut herself off from everyone around her. But when she is forced to walk the refuge’s fat terrier, Maud, a new life beckons – if she can keep her secret just a while longer…

Dog Days is a novel about those small but life-changing moments that only come when we pause to let the light in. It is about three people learning to make connections and find joy in living life off the leash.

I always know I have found a special read when I find myself reading sentences and paragraphs over and over again! It feels like I need to inhale the characters and their lives. Dog Days by Erika Waller is one of those books and it joins a very exclusive club, well my little exclusive club, it made me cry, simply because the story and the characters touched me deeply.

The characterisation is perfect and I don’t have a favourite character, just because I loved them all. George, Dan and Lizzie are all beautifully drawn.  George is grumpy, depressed, alone. Lizzie is running from a past both painful and traumatic. Dan is hiding his sexuality from family and society out of fear of rejection. When you combine them together, you have a story about the truth we carry within us, that we have yet to accept. The writer brings together these three people together to illustrate it’s not a simple thing to understand ourselves, that it takes time and often the kindness and patience of others to do so . The result is deeply moving, heart breaking, but at the same time, you feel that the lives of all three have the power to sustain a better tomorrow.

I read in another review that stated that it takes a steady hand to weave a story with so many complex characters and their canine companions, but it also takes a writer who has an intrinsic understanding of the complexities of the human heart!   Erika Waller handles it like a seasoned pro, the depth and purity of her characterisation, would lead you to think she is an author of countless novels, but this is her debut and it is stunning.  She takes all three people and creates a triangle of fragile connections, where they touch on each other’s lives often only fleetingly, yet she never loses sight of the importance of their individual voices, giving the story depth and heart.

It is a tale of paths taken, regrets that can haunt a person forever, but it never leaves you feeling bereft of hope. You are taking a journey with three deeply complex people and it is worth it. I inhaled the story over two days, set aside tasks I had promised myself I would complete, because my heart was connected to the story and I was invested in their lives. Yet then I slowed, because I didn’t want it to end! It did, of course it did and it was worth it, oh how it was worth it.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones. But why not consider buying a copy from your local independent bookshop?

About the author

ERICKA WALLER lives in Brighton with her husband, three daughters and pets. Previously, she worked as a blogger and columnist. Dog Days is the sum of everything she has learned about love, loss and the healing power of dogs.

You can follow the author on twitter @erickawaller1, Instagram @erickamary and her webpage

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