Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Review: The Hounds of Spring by Lucy Andrews Cummin

We could all do worse than to spend our days with dogs. They are so much less complicated than people. I almost always enjoy books with dogs so I was intrigued to read a book set entirely during one day in the life of a dog walker. Lucy Andrews Cummin has created wonderful characters, both canine and human, in her novel, The Hounds of Spring.

Poppy Starkweather was once a candidate for a PhD in literature. Now she walks dogs as she tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She's happy in a long-term relationship but not sure she's ready for marriage, at least until she has an idea of where her life should go. She enjoys the dogs she walks and the human beings who own them but this wasn't meant to be her long term job. On the day that the novel covers, she starts her day as usual but things start to spiral out of control as each of the important people in her life need her to be present for them. In juggling her dog commitments and trying to squeeze in the needs of her loved ones, she also has to find the time and the balance to attend to herself.  This is not an easy task as her formerly well-organized schedule falls to pieces with each additional thing that creeps into her day. She wants to be with her boyfriend as he hears potentially serious health news at the doctor. She wants to pick her brother up from the airport and take him to her mother's. She wants to take one of her old clients to the shelter to choose a new dog and to the pet store for supplies.

Watching Poppy take care of everyone around her, dog and human, lets the reader see into her nurturing heart while also highlighting her insecurities about her choices and her life. Brief glimpses of the past flash through the narrative, helping to draw a full picture of Poppy. Cummin manages to draw all of her characters with only a few words and yet they are all fully realized. Since the novel is set during the span of one day, it is broken into chapters labelled morning, afternoon, evening, and night, taking Poppy through this unusual twenty-four hours. The writing is spare and lovely and both the dogs and people in Poppy’s life are wonderful to spend time with. Poppy is a gentle character who does a lot of soul searching. People who like quiet, character driven reads will appreciate the beauty, connection, and compassion here and dog lovers will be especially pleased with this slight novel brimming with heart. Definitely worth a read.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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