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Mad Dash: A Novel [Hardcover]

Patricia Gaffney
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 7 2007
The poor thing was cold and trembling, abandoned on their front doorstep. Dash, impulsive as always, decides on the spot that they should keep it. But her husband, Andrew, thinks it’s the craziest thing he’s ever heard. A fight over a scruffy little dog doesn’t seem like much of a reason to walk out on your husband of twenty years—but the spat over the puppy is just the last of many straws.

Dash is so tired of the faculty parties at Mason-Dixon College that Andrew insists they attend even though he won’t mingle with his colleagues, tired of his constant fretting over illnesses he doesn’t have, tired of the glass of warm milk he must have every night before bed. Why can’t he see that with her mother gone and their daughter off at college, Dash needs something more?

Now, living on her own for the first time in years, Dash can do whatever she wants . . . if only she could figure out what that is. But every time she starts making plans for the future, she finds herself thinking about the past—remembering the mother she’s lost, her daughter’s childhood, and the husband she isn’t entirely sure she wants to leave behind. . . .

By turns poignant and hilarious—often on the same page—Mad Dash is a novel about the funny ways love has of catching up to us despite our most irrational efforts to leave it behind.

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From Publishers Weekly

Gaffney's latest (after The Goodbye Summer) chronicles a 20-year marriage on the verge of imploding. Vivacious, impulsive professional photographer Dash Bateman is the opposite of her worrywart, straitlaced husband, Andrew, a history professor at Mason-Dixon College. After Dash's mother dies and the couple packs off their daughter for her freshman year at college, Dash's crisis of purpose culminates with Dash fleeing her house and husband for an extended stay in the couple's isolated cabin. As they attempt to live without one another, Andrew flirts with a feisty younger colleague and salivates over the chance to be chair of his department (if he can navigate the politics), and Dash finds a substitute mother, daughter and potential love interest. Gaffney tells the story from both Dash's and Andrew's points-of-view, allowing readers to see how the two frustrate and fall in love with one another. The writing is lively, though scenes involving conversations about the nature of love and relationships can turn tedious. The climax teeters on the edge of being over the top, but the denouement is just rosy. It's a lot of fun, and the faults are easily forgiven. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Not only men have midlife crises. Meet Dash Bateman. She is a free-spirited photographer who recently lost her mother and sent her daughter off to college. After a trivial fight with her history-professor husband, Andrew, over a puppy, Dash takes the dog and leaves. Tired of Andrew's boring faculty parties, his hypochondria, and his obsessive list making, Dash feels trapped in a life she didn't plan. Out at their cabin, Dash explores the possibilities of reinventing herself and her life on her own. But it is the people around her who challenge Dash's desires and dreams. Mrs. Bender acts as a wise, surrogate mother. Dash's best friend, Mo, is recently divorced and is playing the field with gusto. Greta, her young assistant, reminds Dash of her earlier self; and Owen the handsome handyman just might make her forget all about Andrew. Popular women's fiction writer Gaffney doesn't fuss over plot, instead creating a funny, lighthearted, and tender look at what brings people together, what makes a marriage, and what it takes to keep it together. Kubisz, Carolyn

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4.0 out of 5 stars A SMOOTH, SUPPLE VOICE PERFORMANCE Aug. 19 2007
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Decisions, decisions, decisions....life's full of them, isn't it? Sometimes we live to regret them; at other times we're thankful for powers that help us choose which is best.

Dash Bateman finds herself in a quandary, an unhappy one. Married for two decades to Andrew she now finds him bothersome. In fact, almost everything he does bothers her. Isn't it ridiculous that he needs a glass of warm milk at bedtime or that he forces her to go to faculty parties that he obviously doesn't enjoy?

Their daughter has recently gone to college, and she lost her mother a short while ago. Now, it seems that's all that's left for her is Andrew and she doesn't believe that's near enough. Dash is convinced there must be more in life for her than what she has, but where is it or who is it? She leaves, retreats to their summer cabin.

It comes as no surprise that recently Andrew hasn't found much joy in their relationship either. He's a college professor who likes quiet, and order in his life. He certainly didn't want the abandoned puppy they found on their doorstep! He thinks with Dash gone he can concentrate on his work and enjoy a peaceful existence.....for a change.

Gaffney tells her story in alternate points of view as we learn more about both Dash and Andrew and, as it evolves, they learn more about themselves and each other. How strong are love's ties? What brought them together 20 years ago?

It would seem almost logical that in an almost two character story an audio version would have a male and a female voice. This is not the case, and actress Laural Merlington does a splendid job of reflecting both personalities, their hopes and their dreams. Many will remember her for vivid narrations of Acts of Malice, Back On Blossom Street, Beautiful Dreamer, etc. Merlington is an experienced performer who always delivers her best in a voice both supple and smooth.

- Gail Cooke
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Patricia Gaffney Aug. 25 2007
By Patricia Kay - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I said it before, I'll say it again -- Patricia Gaffney could write a grocery list and I'd be enthralled. MAD DASH is a gem of a novel and Dash and Andrew are wonderful characters -- three dimensional, charming, fascinating, quirky, funny, and oh, so human. As other reviewers have pointed out, Gaffney tells the story from two points of view, but make no mistake, this is a woman's story. In fact, for any woman who has been married more than ten years, this is a must read. So many truths are contained in this book, one wonders if Gaffney has been spying in your house, or worse, reading your mind, for how else could she know these things? I kept laughing (quietly, I didn't want my husband to ask what was so funny) as I read, and I didn't want the book to be over. Sadly, it was. Now the wait begins for another Gaffney book. Hurry up, Pat. Some of us are not very patient! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A SUPPLE, SMOOTH VOICE PERFORMANCE Aug. 19 2007
By Gail Cooke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Decisions, decisions, decisions....life's full of them, isn't it? Sometimes we live to regret them; at other times we're thankful for powers that help us choose which is best.

Dash Bateman finds herself in a quandary, an unhappy one. Married for two decades to Andrew she now finds him bothersome. In fact, almost everything he does bothers her. Isn't it ridiculous that he needs a glass of warm milk at bedtime or that he forces her to go to faculty parties that he obviously doesn't enjoy?

Their daughter has recently gone to college, and she lost her mother a short while ago. Now, it seems that's all that's left for her is Andrew and she doesn't believe that's near enough. Dash is convinced there must be more in life for her than what she has, but where is it or who is it? She leaves, retreats to their summer cabin.

It comes as no surprise that recently Andrew hasn't found much joy in their relationship either. He's a college professor who likes quiet, and order in his life. He certainly didn't want the abandoned puppy they found on their doorstep! He thinks with Dash gone he can concentrate on his work and enjoy a peaceful existence.....for a change.

Gaffney tells her story in alternate points of view as we learn more about both Dash and Andrew and, as it evolves, they learn more about themselves and each other. How strong are love's ties? What brought them together 20 years ago?

It would seem almost logical that in an almost two character story an audio version would have a male and a female voice. This is not the case, and actress Laural Merlington does a splendid job of reflecting both personalities, their hopes and their dreams. Many will remember her for vivid narrations of Acts of Malice, Back On Blossom Street, Beautiful Dreamer, etc. Merlington is an experienced performer who always delivers her best in a voice both supple and smooth.

- Gail Cooke
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, witty, wise, and wonderful June 15 2008
By D. K. Stokes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Patricia Gaffney's women's fiction books are a real challenge for me. I can't resist them, because she's such a fabulous writer, and because she's witty and wise and, well, I don't think it's exaggerating much to call her a goddess. On the other hand, it's women's fiction. In general, it's the one genre I loathe. At best, it's serious. At worst, it's whiny women who blame men for all their problems. It's a good thing I love Gaffney, because otherwise I'd hate her. Not only does she make me read women's fiction... she makes me love it.

Dash and Andrew have been married nearly 20 years. He's a stuffy history professor, she's a free-spirited photographer. Dash's mother died recently, and now their only child is going off to college. Then a puppy shows up on their doorstep. Dash wants to keep it; Andrew's allergic. Dash and the puppy move out, going to their cottage.

Andrew: She's leaving me? Over a puppy?
Dash: How can he not see that it's not about the puppy?

I'd venture to say that most long-married couples will recognize the spirit behind their confusion--Pat has human nature down so well that these characters feel utterly real.

Like many couples in their situation, they've taken each other for granted, focused on their careers, their children, their aging parents, and when that outside focus is taken away, they find themselves married to someone they don't know, and maybe don't even like all that much. And the women (though this could apply to men, too, but in this case, it's Dash) discover that after years of devoting themselves to other people--husband, parents, children--there's nothing left of themselves.

How Dash and Andrew cope with the separation and learn and grow and find themselves and each other again is a story full of warmth and humor and pain and love and realism. It's truly a wonderful book.

All the moreso because it brought me to an odd realization about myself, which was both uncomfortable and inspiring.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but not Gaffney's Best May 25 2009
By Denali - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This was a decent read, but not my favorite Gaffney book. It pales in comparison to Saving Graces. I found the nickname "Dash" to be a little bit superficial - sounded like the nickname was picked for the title of the book. The husband's character was a bit too stereotypical and I really did not enjoy the chapters written on his life.

I give props to the plot and the topic of the book - a husband and wife have marital strife after their only childs goes away to college. Gaffney did a decent job with Dash and her thoughts/actions/life. But Andrew was lacking. The chapters devoted to Andrew were devoid of substance and frankly, unappealing. I think she could have developed his character a lot more and gave him more depth. He was more like the stereotypical genius husband without social grace.

This book would make a decent beach read, but beyond that, look to Gaffney's earlier works for a great read. Saving Graces is still my favorite thus far.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What you learn after you leave May 11 2009
By Jean Kelso - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Sometimes you have to leave before you learn where you belong. After an argument with her husband over an abandoned dog, Dash moves out to a family cottage in Virginia for an undefined "interlude". Dash has always been the vivacious, flighty one, while Andrew has been her "rock". Each must face their aloneness and examine their side of the story of their marriage. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and envied them in their marriage, boulders and all.
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