“The Dogs of Babel” seems, at first, to be a crazy story about a man trying to teach his dog to speak. This story is so much more than that.
Paul Iverson is grief stricken when his wife, Lexy, falls to her death from an apple tree in the backyard with only Lorelei, their dog, as a witness. It was the middle of the day with no neighbors home to hear a scream. Was it an accident or did Lexy commit suicide? Only Lorelei knows, and she’s not talking.
Paul is a linguistics professor and convinces himself he can teach Lorelei to speak. He takes a sabbatical from work and throws himself into his new project. With desperation and frustration, Paul takes us through his grief - from denial to acceptance.
The book alternates between Paul’s obsessive efforts to get Lorelei to speak and flashbacks of his whirlwind romance with his wife. Paul chooses to remember his wife a certain way - full of spontaneity and creativity. However, during the flashbacks we learn more about the relationship and the darker side of free-spirited Lexy.
Paul is a very sympathetic and charming character. I definitely felt sorry for him as he searched to understand his wife’s death. Although Lexy was just a memory throughout the entire novel, her character was lively and mysterious.
Parkhurst writes a heart-wrenching story about grief, but in a very unconventional way. The emotion slowly builds throughout. It’s written in a very suspenseful way that keeps the reader turning pages.
Parkhurst’s debut novel is beautifully original and creative. It is unique and full of emotion. In many ways, it’s a mystery novel - full of questions without answers - but mostly it is a mystery about the people we love the most.
“The Dogs of Babel” is a story worth picking up even after you’ve read the quirky premise. It is about so much more than talking dogs. It’s about grief, self-examination, love and how mysterious and complicated people and relationships can be.
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