I was sitting on a train, a 4-hour trip ahead of me (that eventually turned into 6), and a book to keep me company. I wanted something “light”and “simple”, words that could serenely flow and enliven my little journey.
The New Yorkers by american author Cathleen Schine was my choice. I had bought the book a few months earlier and felt it was the “right” moment to read it. Books – evert kind of book – can’t be read anywhere, anytime. There’s a time and a place, and a feeling.
The novel is set in a quiet little block near Central Park, that seems more like an English small town with its rhythm and seasons, where the stories of five peculiar characters evolve and entwine, together with the stories of their dogs – or maybe their stories being the central focus of the entire book.
Beatrice, Howdy, Jolly, Fredericka.
It’ more than a mellow story of puppy love. It’s a pleasant, funny and sometimes moving portrait of the way these dogs are able to inspire affection, happiness, and unexpected humanity even from the seemingly irretrievable ones.
Jody, Everett, Simon, Polly, George, Doris, Jamie.
A 39 year old music teacher who proudly calls herself a spinster, a grumpy divorced chemist, a solitary social worker, a 26 year old copy editor on the heels of a bad break up and her slacker brother, an angry schoolmarm hating dogs, and a gay proprietor of a restaurant. Lonely hearts whose lives will change in the course of a year, whose stories shall irremediably interlace like in every small town – or neighbourhood.
It’s a novel of love, longing, expectations, shyness, uncertainties, and loss. It’s a love letter to a different face of New York. It’s a reflection on bipeds-canine relationships and human bonds. With a happy ending.
Sometimes it is awkward to be happy. You get used to a certain jaundiced hue, and the change is jarring, unsettling.
A fresh and pleasant reading, perfect for a trip and to break from the great classics. The narration and the language flow naturally, and by the end of the book you will have fallen in love with that little part of New York, its life, and its inhabitants: the dogs, of course.
It was never one of New York City’s fashionable blocks. There are no mansions there, no narrow houses of historical importance, no plaques attesting to former residents of consequence. The apartment buildings, though old, were architecturally indifferent. [...] The brownstones that lined the street were mostly broken up into apartments, and most of those apartment were rentals. [...] Struggling musicians and actors and secretaries and window washers could still afford to live there, and they still did, some of them growing successful, some simply growing old.
[...] It was the loveliest street I have ever lived on. And the most interesting.