Between a Wolf and a Dog is another nomination for the Stella Prize and was written by the celebrated Georgia Blain. This novel follows four connected characters, Ester, her ex-husband Laurence, her sister April and her mother Hilary. Most of the novel is set on one rainy day in Sydney with some flashbacks to the past. This is by no means a particularly special story and the characters are not particularly special people, some in my opinion are not even all that likeable. Although all these elements do come together to produce an extraordinary piece of work. This year’s winner perhaps?
Blain takes the mundane days-to-day life of these characters and turns it into an exceptional piece of fiction. Her descriptions of nature, people, the weather, within the book is powerfully evocative. The reader feels they are there themselves. Blain’s grasp of each of the four very different characters mindsets is masterful and demonstrates a complete understanding of human nature. The beautiful, the heart-breaking and the ugly. The voice of each character is honest and rings true. Each of the four are flawed and raw, although some more than others. In fact I actively disliked several of the characters and yet I still found myself understanding their thoughts and actions despite how I disagreed with them because their actions were true to the personas that Blain created. She truly took something ordinary and crafted it into something extraordinary showing how incredibly her talent as a writer was.
The character of Hilary begs the consideration that Blain entered an autobiographical element to this character and I found myself pondering if some of the beliefs and ideas of this character were her own. If this character was able to vice some of her desires, some of her fears. This book has it all, themes of regret, anger, boredom within your life, unfulfilled potentials, all the aspects that we as human deal with in our daily life. The writing was so powerful I was left in the final pages with my eyes full of tears. This book describe the harsh realties of life. People do make mistakes. You cannot always forgive people. There is not always a happy ending. You might find yourself dissatisfied in your life. The story ends without the closure that some might want. The plot is somewhat up in the air but this, again, reflects the honesty of real life. I found myself feeling melancholic and reflective for the rest of the day after finishing, the concepts and themes running through my mine. A sign of an exceptional piece of work.
Overall, Between a Wolf and a Dog is a masterful piece of fiction showing the reader both the tragedy and beauty of life. In my opinion this is an exceptional read and well worth picking up. I give Between a Wolf and a Dog five aromatic oranges.