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I don't understand why people recommend this book for dog lovers. There's graphic animal abuse and animal torture. A poor sweet dog suffers because its master wants to find out "the truth". Be warned ...this is not a sunny, My Dog Skip kind of story. I wish I hadn't read this book. Needless to say, I was disappointed with the story.
Despite the downright craziness of the plot, this is a touching an emotionally moving puzzle of a story. I would say that the central motif weaving through the story is language - the language barrier between owner and dog, the unspoken language between husband and wife that harbors secrets, the language spoken in our subconscious that somehow television psychics become attuned to, and the wife's poetic language that works itself from a penultimate, odd act into a real clue into her psyche.
If you're intrigued, give this book some time. You won't need much, as it's a relatively fast read.
Obviously I'm a minority of one. I hated this book, and I find it amazing that others are recommending it for dog lovers. How maiming and torturing a dog to satisfy one's own self obsession makes it a "touching love story" is beyond me. (And just as a side note, you must have language first in order to form and retrieve memories.)
I also don't understand why this book is recommended to dog lovers. There is a vivid, disturbing element about trying to restructure dogs' anatomy so they can talk, which I found very distressing. I'm such a dog lover that I REALLY didn't like this book. It was just too strange & very upsetting. Be warned if you read this that it's not a typical dog-lovers' book.
Can one really find a soulmate? It happened to Paul and Lexy. One look at each other and the magic began. On the first date they travel to Disney World and spend days beginning to know one another. Their love blooms until they marry and begin life together with Lexy's dog, Lorelie. Paul is a linguist and Lexy an artist who makes beautiful masks. They create unusual times to spend time together and show their love.
One day, Paul returns home to find a police car parked in front of their house. Lexy has fallen from their apple tree and broken her neck. He is devastated. Grief consumes him as he tries to determine what happened. Ruled an accident, Paul wonders. The only witness was Lorelie. Can he teach her to talk and tell him how Lexy fell? Taking a sabbatical, he is determined to try. His attempts meet with little success and he encounters a strange group that does cruel surgery on dogs attempting to create talking dogs. Their efforts are deplored by society but he attends a meeting which leaves him shaken. Reflecting on his attempts to teach Lorelie to talk he realizes that such efforts are in vain. His grief is still there but he knows it's time to learn how to live again. He was lucky to have the beautiful Lexy as a part of his life as long as he did.
My book club was split in two on this book. Some (like me) absoultely adored it. Others thought it bizarre. Interestingly, what divided the two groups was grief - those who have experienced a deep grief in their lives will understand The Dogs of Babel.
This is a book that will stay with me a long time. There is sadness, humor, mystery and suspense. Most importantly it is a story of healing and acceptance. Carolyn Parkhurst skillfully moves Paul, the main character, along with the reader through the process of recovering from the sudden and shocking death of his wife. I was very moved by this book and recommend it highly.