From The Writer's Chair

Marley And Me – A Book Review

'The World's Worst Dog

'The World's Worst Dog'

Marley & Me – Life And Love With The World’s Worst Dog By John Grogan

A Book Review By Miller Brooks

‘Let’s get together and feel alright’. Marley, a Golden Labrador so named after the Reggae legend, has the power with one glance to melt the most stonehearted. However, this pooch is neither mellow nor chilled, but a neurotic, mischievous, hyper energized canine intent on domineering his owners at any and all possible opportunities. This is John Grogan’s heart-warming frolic through the life of the world’s worst dog.

John Grogan’s bestselling book is the story of a young family journeying through life. His accounts of their trials and tribulations are intertwined with the memories of the family pet and his recollections will have you laughing out loud one minute and reaching for a box of tissues at the next.

Initially when this book was recommended to me I was instantly dismissive. Why indeed would I be interested in reading an entire book based on the behaviour of a dog. It seemed so mundane and having never owned a dog personally, I felt that this would be one of those books, you’d just ‘give a go’ to see what all the fuss was about. However, I was gleefully mistaken.

It begins with a heart-warming account of a small boys’ bond with the family pet, a mongrel named Shaun. This is merely a prelude as within a short few pages he establishes all the ways a pet can enrich a family’s life and how a small boys memory is linked with his experiences with his canine companion.

Hastily we move forward where we find the author married and along with his new bride, living in Palm Beach, Florida. He describes their idyllic existence. They are deeply in love, with good careers, a great house and not a care in the world. Though something is missing. Both John and his wife Jenny want to start a family of their own. With the prospect of children seeming so daunting they collectively decide upon a puppy to test the waters, so to speak. Little did they realise just what they were getting themselves in for!

'Problem Pooch!'

'Problem Pooch!'

Marley’s entry into John and Jenny’s life is a whirlwind of disaster. He rampages through screen doors, devours jewellery, especially watch straps apparently a canine speciality, destroys all the carpets and sees all the chairs as his personal chew toys. However, despite all the boisterous behaviour his loyalty and love is unquestioned.

Throughout the book John Grogan takes us along for the craziest adventures.  Surely the casting of Marley as the ‘typical family dog’ in a local commercial was a catastrophe of epic proportions just waiting to happen! The story of Marley being thrown out of obedience school is pure hilarity, eloquently told and executed. Without divulging the events, lets just say it is a moral victory for all canine’s whom have ever had their dignity expunged by a hard nose trainer. Marley certainly had no intentions of taking orders from her.

One of the most memorable stories is that of the Grogan family attempting a night out for dinner with Marley in toe.  The decision of a ritzy Florida restaurant is soon one they lament. With Marley secured to the cast iron dining table drinks are served and the ambiance is serene.  However, when Marley spots another dog strutting along down the road he charges dragging the metal dinner table, clearing all in his path with John and Jenny frantically sprinting in hot pursuit.

In summation, Marley & Me is an exquisitely written journal of a burgeoning family’s life together.  John Grogan uses his canine companion almost as a metaphor to say exactly what are his own opinions on life. He documents all the family’s life from his own deep rooted concerns for the family to Jenny’s bout with serious depression. The book is primarily comical and light, though he is not afraid to confront the darker moments that beseech all of us.

Marley & Me is a novel that most certainly is not ‘one for the dogs’, but a sincere and gratifying demonstration of the rich tapestry that is life. Marley reminds us that life should be lived to the fullest, and no matter what love and loyalty come for free.


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