THE DOG SHARE

By Fiona Gibson

Fiona Gibson’s novels are always an uplifting, life-affirming read. Although they come under the ‘rom com’ or ‘mum lit’ categories, they deliver much more than that. Gibson tackles deeper issues with humour and sensitivity and makes you feel you’re not alone in struggling through midlife crises.

The portrayal of parenting is both accurate and hilarious and I particularly love the vignettes involving teenage children (eg earnest vegans and the ensuing family rows). Characters are skilfully painted and you ‘get’ them quickly. Descriptions of less than perfect exes or partners are spot on and funny. Not only are the characters engaging, but the scenarios are always current and bubbling on the collective psyche.

Add these totally relatable characters to a backdrop that’s colourful and atmospheric, and you have all the ingredients of a Fiona Gibson read. The Dog Share is no exception. Just when we are all obsessed with dogs and getting away from it all, here’s a book where the central characters are linked through an abandoned terrier, Scout, who’s found roaming a remote beach on fictitious Hebridean island Sgadansay. It’s a perfect story for the times we live in. Some people believe that dogs find us when we most need them and that is certainly the case for Suzy whose haphazard, chaotic loser of a boyfriend, Paul, uses his inheritance to buy a whisky distillery on the island on a whim, makes her a director and then proceeds to ruin the business, dump Suzy, and cost islanders their livelihoods. Quite a catch.

Suzy finds herself with the challenge of rebuilding a business and dealing with the financial fallout, as well as a very disgruntled and disillusioned workforce. On a visit to the island to start repairing the damage done to the distillery, she ‘finds’ Scout, and it’s through the little dog that she befriends Cara, an artist who lives on the island, and Ricky a music teacher who’s a single dad.

There’s so much more to this book than romance. It’s the story of the dramas and ups and downs of running a business and balancing that with being a mother and discovering one’s own identity. It’s full of warmth and love and an unconventional route to happiness via one cute little four-legged friend. It’s sheer gorgeous escapism at a time when we can’t stray too far from home. Like me, you’ll probably get the urge to own a dog if you don’t already, and you’ll definitely want to visit the windswept white sands of the Hebrides.

Wendy Rigg