- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books; Canadian edition (Feb. 16 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 147678003X
- ISBN-13: 978-1476780030
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 499 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
Black Dog Summer: A Novel Paperback – Feb 16 2016
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“Mystical, suspenseful, and darkly funny … Black Dog Summer is sure to be the beginning of a long career for Miranda Sherry.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
“Sherry builds suspense as she explores the bonds between siblings, spouses, and parents and children. A beautifully written literary debut centering on the power of love and memory.”
“Vibrates with tension. ... A hauntingly beautiful tale from a writer to watch.”
“Tightly woven and richly rewarding.”
—Cape Times (South Africa)
“A story about murder but not crime, with black magic but no horror, and narrated by a dead woman who is not a ghost, this debut novel is a delightful mix of paradox and melancholy.”
—The Sunday Times (South Africa)
“An engaging tale of second chances, reconcilliation, and allies in unlikely places.”
—The Times (South Africa)
“It’s not very often a novel reaches in, grips your insides, and takes you on a ride so atmospheric and well-written. Black Dog Summer is a rich tapestry of grief, family, hidden secrets, and love.”
—It’s A Book Thing.com
“Exquisitely told and poignant.”
—The Lady (UK)
“Poetic and thought-provoking, this accomplished debut is an intensely moving tale.”
—The Good Book Guide (UK)
“Evocative ... Sherry’s sense of pacing and her keen ear for dialogue make for a good read.”
About the Author
Miranda Sherry grew up in a house filled with books. She was seven when she began writing stories. A few decades, numerous strange jobs, and many manuscripts later, Black Dog Summer is the first of her works to be published. Miranda currently lives in Johannesburg with her sort-of-husband and two cats. To find out more, go to Twitter.com/Miranda_Sherry_ or MirandaSherry.com.
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Sally is unable to move on and finds herself floating in the great beyond following `threads' of people's lives, most notably those of her family.
Her daughter Gigi survived but understandably is in a state of shock and is taken in by Adele, Sally's sister and her family.
There are some nicely descriptive passages: "The afternoon heat is solid and resolutely breathless, and in the distance a thick duvet of steely-gray storm clouds coats the horizon." (Pg.66), but the characters are sorely lacking.
The `thread' of Lesedi, the sangoma, next door neighbour to Adele and family is underdeveloped and kind of a let-down.
By page 155 I couldn't wait for it to be finished and started to skip as I felt that the story wasn't moving along. Even the revelation towards the end felt like `oh well, ho hum'.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The book is compelling for a number of reasons: we hear about the mother's complex relationship with her sister and the sister's husband; the grief of the daughter she has left behind; and the story of the witchdoctor who is able to see her spirit and foresee danger in the near future. The story is complex, yet light; violent, yet gentle. It's a definite page-turner and something that (while it deals with complex issues) is light enough not to feel drained when you read it.
Miranda's prose is clean, evocative and poetic. She creates a beautiful, real sense of the world she writes about. My favourite part of the book is that it ultimately has an uplifting message. I put it down feeling a bit more positive and hopeful about the world we live in.
As shocking as the opening event is, this is mostly a gentle and moving story, as Gigi, Sally's sister Adele, Adele's husband Liam--whom Sally had also loved--and their children Tyler and Bryony, work through the aftermath. And Sally isn't gone; she finds herself bound to the world and her family, unable to move on until she deals with something that must be done first.
At first, she can't feel or reach Gigi at all. Her daughter is too traumatized, and getting through the days and nights with heavy sedation. For reasons that aren't clear at first, Adele and Liam, while reachable, are at first too painful for her. Adele's youngest, daughter Bryony, is her initial path in to her struggling family. Bryony is puzzled, resentful, and alarmed at first, by her zombie-like cousin. The cousins haven't met since Bryony was a toddler, because of the estrangement between the sisters. Gigi has grown up on a conservation farmstead, eating vegan, doing morning yoga, and learning an amazing amount of biology. Her cousin has grown up in suburban Johannesburg, with a far more conventional education. She escapes the stranger in her room by spying on the intriguing, attractive next door neighbor, Lesedi Matsunyane.
Lesedi, it turns out, is a modern, highly educated, but very traditional South African sangoma. She's running a consulting service from her home--against the Body Corporate rules--and she can see Sally.
She can also see the black dog that represents the forces of darkness threatening Bryony and her family.
As the story plays out, the conflicts and complicated emotional history entangling Sally, Adele, and Liam unfold, and as Gigi emerges from her fog, we begin to suspect she saw more than initially thought on that horrible summer morning.
Black Dog Summer grabs the emotions and doesn't let go.
I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.