I don’t ordinarily read novels narrated by animals, mostly because I’m still getting over sobbing through Black Beauty forty years ago. I don’t even like reading books about animals, although I do remember howling at the end of Charlotte’s Web, (again, approximately forty years ago) and feeling aggravated by the unfairness of everything when I had to read Animal Farm in school. Thirty-five years later, that whole thing about some animals being more equal than other animals in Animal Farm still gets up my nose.
However, I had already read How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets by Garth Stein and really enjoyed it, so thought I would give The Art of Racing in the Rain a try, even though the story is told by a dog. Sure enough, I found myself sitting up too late on a work night and crying over an animal’s life story yet again…
Enzo is an old dog, in pain and anxious for his death. He is hoping to be reincarnated in his next life as a man, but needs his master Denny to recognise that the time has come to euthanize him. While he waits, Enzo reflects on his life with Denny.
Enzo worships Denny. He has spent his life learning from watching television and from listening to Denny, who is a racing-car driver. They watch videos of races together, and Enzo listens and learns from Denny’s comments and advice on car racing. Enzo also dearly loves racing. A highlight of Enzo’s life occurred when Denny took him to a race track and he experienced hot laps as a passenger in a race car.
When Denny first met Eve, who was to become his wife, Enzo was jealous of their relationship, (and Eve’s thumbs), but by the time Denny and Eve’s daughter Zoe was born, Enzo was won over by the additions to their family. Apart from Eve’s family thinking that she could have done better, their family was happy, until Eve got sick. Together, Enzo and Deny go through heart-wrenching trials.
Enzo and Denny’s story is told so beautifully that I did not want this book to end. My only complaint was that Enzo never had a love life or puppies of his own.
As per How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, I can easily imagine The Art of Racing in the Rain being made into a movie that I would want to see.