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The Blessings Of The Animals: A Novel [Paperback]

Katrina Kittle

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Book Description

July 26 2010 P.S.

“[A] beautifully crafted novel….A must-read not only for animal lovers, but for anyone who has found the courage to come back from heartbreak and find love again, without reservation, without fear.”
—Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants


“A
marvelous page-turner, a story of an unexpected heartbreak and the unexpected blessings that result. I didn’t want to put this book down!”
— Ellen Baker, author of Keeping the House

 

“Wonderfully poignant characters and a deeply satisfying exploration of love in its many incarnations…make this novel Katrina Kittle’s most insightful yet.”
Lesley Kagen, New York Times bestselling author of Tomorrow River

 

From Katrina Kittle, the critically acclaimed author of The Kindness of Strangers, comes The Blessings of the Animals—a wry, engrossing, and moving story of a veterinarian’s journey through the aftermath of divorce amidst a motley crew of beasts.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; 1 edition (July 26 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061906077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061906077
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #109,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“Wonderfully poignant characters and a deeply satisfying exploration of love in its many incarnations, some of them a bit furrier than others, make this novel Katrina Kittle’s most insightful yet. Don’t miss it!” (Lesley Kagen, New York Times bestselling author of Tomorrow River)

From the Back Cover

From Katrina Kittle, critically acclaimed author of The Kindness of Strangers, comes a wry and moving story of forgiveness, flexibility, happiness, and the art of moving on.

Veterinarian Cami Anderson has hit a rough patch. Stymied by her recent divorce, she wonders if there are secret ingredients to a happy, long-lasting marriage or if the entire institution is outdated and obsolete. Couples all around her are approaching important milestones. Her parents are preparing to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. Her brother and his partner find their marriage dreams legally blocked. Her former sister-in-law—still her best friend—is newly engaged. The youthfully exuberant romance of her teenage daughter is developing complications. And three separate men—including her ex-husband—are becoming entangled in Cami's messy post-marital love life.

But as she struggles to come to terms with her own doubts amid this chaotic circus of relationships, Cami finds strange comfort in an unexpected confidant: an angry, unpredictable horse in her care. With the help of her equine soul mate, she begins to make sense of marriage's great mysteries—and its disconnects.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  135 reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Aug. 29 2010
By A. Pohren - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What a wonderful and incredible feeling to sit down with a book, open up the cover and instantly become engulfed within a story. That was exactly my experience with The Blessings of the Animals. I have been yearning to read Katrina Kittle for a while now and when the opportunity came to be part of her tour for The Blessings of the Animals, I was thrilled to death. Though this is my first book by Ms. Kittle, it will definitely not be my last.

It is a well known idea that animals have the power to heal and the bond between human and animal can be a very special and unbreakable one. The Blessings of the Animals takes that idea and creates a highly memorable and engrossing story that will ring within the reader's minds long after the book has been finished. Katrina Kittle's talent for creating realistic, heart-rendering and amazingly descriptive story prose draws the reader in and holds them tight until the very end. One such instance occurs in the beginning, on page 15:

"Helen filmed and I narrated in a voice that sounded tight and swollen no matter how many times I cleared my throat. "The mare ate the wood. She was eating her own stall in an attempt to survive. Look." With gloved hands, I pulled back the mare's upper lip and opened her jaw. "Her tongue and gums are full of splinters, and her mouth is full of manure."

The shouting, hammering, and barking continued as we filmed empty feed bins, an empty hayloft, empty water buckets.

I euthanized a black gelding and shipped off four other raggedy survivors with the last of the volunteers. Helen got on her cell, trying to round up more foster homes.

When I opened the last stall in this barn, two fillies stared at me from the dark, sweet eyes in deep hollows. Their hip bones pushed up so starkly that sores oozed where bone threatened to push through the skin, but their hearts and lungs sounded strong."

Just the wording created a visual that pulled at my heart and made me ache for these poor horses that had long been neglected.

Cami Anderson is a veterinarian whose talent and love for animals runs incredibly deep. Cami has long since had a visceral need for "highs" and the powerful rush of adrenalin, be it from adventurous undertakings, such as close encounters with tornados, starving herself or the rush she feels next to a powerful animal. This desire is what first brings her and her future husband, Bobby, together. However, after eighteen years of marriage and a wonderful seventeen-year-old daughter, Bobby's depression and restlessness leads him to suddenly leave his marriage and family behind. Caught in a tailspin, Cami must put the pieces of her life and the life of her daughter back together. While trying to come to peace with her life, Cami finds herself on a journey of life and relationship reflection.

I found myself very intrigued and connected to Cami. Not for any particular reason, but simply for the fact that she was so real, so human and so easy to connect with. The other characters of Cami's brother, Davy and his partner, David were also incredibly enjoyable. The Blessings of the Animals is a celebration of finding happiness in ones life and reiterating the powerful bonds and importance of animals. More often than not, it is an animal that can be the most faithful and dependable presence in ones life and The Blessings of the Animals is the perfect example of this.

Whether you are an animal lover or someone looking for an amazing story that will settle deeply into your heart and soul, The Blessings of the Animals is the perfect book to sink into. Katrina Kittle is an amazing voice in today's world of literature and has the staying power to bring years of reading pleasure to an enormous audience. I can't wait to read more works by Ms. Kittle and look forward to watching her amazing success climb.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life Lessons in Love and Marriage Aug. 26 2010
By Melissa Books and Things - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Of course, as the title suggests, the animals play an important role through her hero journey. The animals in the story are really made 3 dimensional and of course, play a pivotal role in Cami's story. You end up really love these highly visual animal characters in this story and there is at least one tear jerking scene (but it isn't about death, to relax those like me who hate those stories).

Not only is this story about Cami's journey through divorce and how she is saved by her animals and friends, but it is a comment on marriage and love in general. It comments on those, like Cami, who learn that marriage is hard work and can be worth that work. It's also about those that want to be married just for the sake of marriage. This is not only on the part of the woman, but the man as well. There is even a bit about arranged marriage. Plus, there is also a big commentary on gay marriage and adoption. All of this seems like a lot to put in a book, but the way it was done it fits well because it follows Cami's discoveries of those issues.

My only complaint is about her boyfriends. They are wonderful characters until she dates them. Then, they start to become one-dimensional caricatures of themselves. For example, I didn't believe that Vijay, her childhood best friend, was such an insightful person and true friend only to become a totally blind and selfish boyfriend so quickly and throughly. Vijay was my biggest disappointment.

I give this book 4 stars and I do recommend this book. I'm also glad that this book is based on animals that she knew in real life.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another tour de force from Katrina Kittle Aug. 5 2010
By Sam Staley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book and a decidely positive (and fitting) follow up to the gripping and much darker "Kindness of Strangers." Kittle's story of love, forgiveness and personal committment has an enduring message about being true to yourself in order to find real happiness. We picked up this book and read it straight through in one day. Kittle's first book, "Traveling Light," showed the power of her literary voice in exploring complicated, layered interpersonal relationships, and "The Blessings of the Animals" is simply more evidence of her staying power as an author and story teller.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars BLAH July 6 2011
By MamaK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When searching for new books, I often look to authors that I truly enjoyed in the past, and search for recommended books that are written by "like" authors. Katrina Kittle is one such author. After much review I chose this selection, "The Blessings of the Animals". I was very disappointed in this novel. It lacked depth, character development and really did not have much of a plot. Come to think of it a BLAH book. You know what I mean, you don't hate it but don't like it either, and in six months you will have forgotten you ever read it. Too many good books out there to waste your time.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a multi-faceted book that is just a pleasure to read Aug. 23 2010
By lisa shea - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
what a pleasant surprise of a book!?! i really enjoyed the story, the character, the writing - everything was wonderful, and despite its bulk, it read fairly quickly and easily. spunky and full of emotional nuggets of wisdom, this was a book that left me immensely satisfied, both as a reader and as a human being that loves her people and animals.

"Throughout my teens I'd flirt with starvation - as well as with rock climbing, flying lessons, hitchhiking and lots of solo travel, a variety of drugs, and boys with bad reputations."

the story centers on Camden (Cam or Cami for short), a sometimes reckless, but mostly passionate veterinarian who very much loves her work, who is also a mother and wife in a seemingly turbulent, but satisfying life. and then, without much warning or fanfare, her husband leaves, throwing their lives into the painful aftermath of divorce. but, Cam, being the ever-resilient superwoman type that she is, does her best to dust herself off and weather the storm and learn a bit about herself and others along the way.

through a whole slew of characters that i couldn't even begin to introduce, Cam wades through the divorce with her support system in tow. parents, in-laws, fellow co-workers, her gay brother and his partner (both named David), her best friend and fiancee, her daughter and her very smitten boyfriend, and on and on. and that's not even beginning to get into the animals. so, be prepared for the long list of characters! but, as much as it sounds daunting, it really wasn't. each person and every animal had their place and it wasn't overdone or excessive somehow.

so, as the title would suggest, animals definitely have a portion of the spotlight in the story. Moonshot, in particular, a tragic and temperamental rescue horse comes into Cam's life on the same day that her husband leaves, giving Cam an outlet for her frustration, allowing her to nurture and care for something other than her own damaged self, if only for a while. but, in addition to Moonshot is the crazy goat that won't stay put and the three-legged cat that purrs its way into the readers heart. there's even a crazy cat lady, since any animal related story wouldn't be quite complete without one!

in addition to the dynamics of our relationships with animals, Kittle definitely takes a good, hard look at human relationships and the institution of marriage from various angles. the endless list of characters are almost all presented in their relationship form. the obvious divorce of Cam and Bobby strikes up the traditional marriage situation, but also the Davids (legally unable to marry) and Helen and Hank (who choose to remain happily unmarried), and even Cam's parents celebrating their epic 50th wedding anniversary (having survived infidelity, no less) all provide varying perspectives of relationships. the stability and ultimate happiness of any relationship comes, obviously, from within the people rather than the institution itself and Kittle does a great job of portraying this, as well as the opposing strengths that do inevitably exist within the sanctity of marriage.

but, ultimately, Kittle writes about the strength that exists in humans to overcome, to forgive, and to nurture, through parenting or doctoring or cooking, or whatever. it doesn't really matter how, but we are all capable somehow of supporting those people in our lives that we love, in times of need and in times of joy, and Kittle couldn't have made that message any clearer.

this would make a great addition to any summer reading pile and i would definitely recommend it, not only for animal lovers or parents or divorcees, but for anyone that believes that emotional hardship can and should make you a better, stronger person.


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