Wednesday, December 19, 2012

To Dance with the White Dog by Terry Kay

The Gables Book Club wanted a relatively short and easy read for December's discussion. To Dance with the White Dog was the choice. It wasn't a happy read, but one that packed emotion and a need for reflection into it's pages. 

The reader is introduced to Sam Peek, who has just lost his wife, Cora, of  fifty-seven years. He has been recognized as an expert in pecan trees and still, even with his walker, tends to some of his trees each day. His daughters live close-by and check on him often, as does his former housekeeper, Neelie. Not long after Cora's death Sam begins to see a white dog around the house. Sam feeds the dog and soon the dog becomes a part of his lonely life. The only problem is that no one else can see the dog. 

One of the most comical scenes in this otherwise poignant book finds his daughters sneaking up to Sam's house in the middle of the night, complete with back face in order to see the dog. Finally, they say that they can see the dog, but the reader is never quite sure whether to believe them. 

Sam is nostalgic for his younger days and upon receiving an announcement of his high school reunion he makes plans to attend. He keeps the trip a secret from the children because he knows that they would not look fondly upon his traveling by himself. Sam doesn't have a driver's license. The white dog accompanies Sam and saves his life. 

The book was made into a film starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy - perfectly casted. The reader is treated to a narrative that is about relationships - between Sam and his children, his neighbors, his late wife, his devotion to his journal and facing the end of life, and most importantly,  the dog. It is left to those looking in on Sam to decide whether the dog is real. A good, sentimental read with a bit of supernatural tucked in.

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