Southern accents may be the country’s most often-attempted and least often-perfected but in Katie Crouch’s Men and Dogs, narrator Gabra Zackman gives a spot-on performance that elevates a traditional tale of a woman trying to reconcile her past and her future. From the practiced, even tone of the main character to the slow drawls of her South Carolina relatives, Zackman’s phrasings, inflections, and emphasis bring out the personalities of each character.
Crouch builds her story around Hannah Legare, who, more than two decades after her father’s mysterious disappearance from his motorboat off the coast of Charleston, is still struggling with his absence: her sex-toy business is failing, her marriage is on the brink of dissolving, and an ill-advised break-in attempt lands her in the hospital and then back to her hometown to recuperate. While she’s there, she reconnects with her brother, Palmer, who’s facing his own relationship troubles; her high-school boyfriend, his mother, and his new wife; and her mother and stepfather all of whom have very different memories of the weeks and hours leading up to her father’s disappearance.
While the story itself is classic big city girl goes home to find herself Zackman’s narration adds just the right depth: Hannah’s hardly-accented voice is a reflection of how hard she’s tried to move on from her past; her mother’s restrained intonation calls up traditional South Carolina belles; Palmer’s low drawl masks a secret he’s carried since high school; and her stepfather’s stereotypical twang imparts mood-lifting quips and wise counsel in equal part as the Legares and especially Hannah finally figure out how to put themselves back together. Blythe Copeland
In April of 1985, Buzz Legare went fishing. The next day all that was found was his boat and his waiting, faithful dog.
Twenty years later, his daughter Hannah still finds hope in believing, alone among her family, that he's still alive somewhere. She has a smart husband, a thriving business, a beautiful home in San Francisco-and a huge hole in her troubled heart. True to her trademark talent for self-sabotage, she finds herself one starry night climbing up the fire escape in a desperate (and drunken) attempt to win back her own husband--and failing disastrously.
>Slightly worse for the wear, Hannah returns to Charleston to salve her wounds. There, old loves, unrepented crimes, and family legends are stirred up from the dust. Hannah's brother Palmer, the stoic with a secret of his own, cannot dissuade her from a manic search to uncover clues to the past, and they will both face shocking discoveries that lead them to reconcile their very different notions of loyalty and blind faith.
As she did so memorably in her best-selling debut, Girls in Trucks, Katie Crouch has created another great voice--spiky, tender, and hilarious--in the screwball heroine Hannah Legare. Much like Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding, Hannah follows the misguided impulses of a heart that's in the right place.
©2010 Katie Crouch (P)2010 Hachette
I read a review of this book and was interested in checking it out but felt disappointed in the characters that were self-absorbed and not very likable. In the end, I really didn't "care" if they resolved their issues. Not at all what I thought this book would be about.
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