A treat for Christmas, a delightful little book of stories by one of Britain’s most original writers.
In these five stories Julia Blackburn recalls the significant animals in her life and in so doing gives us a sidelong glance at the human members of her family, her painter mother and poet father.
First comes Congo the bush baby, from the jungles of Madagascar via Harrods pet department. He slept in an old cap on the back of the door, and could leap about the room via the picture rails. Then there are tropical fish, tortoises, chickens, guinea pigs, foxes (the last three a combustible combination), pigs, and two very distinctive dogs, Julia’s own dog, Jason, a cocker spaniel whose habits of servility and loyalty Julia’s father, Thomas, was determined to undo (‘He’s worse than Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, fawning at my heels!’) and Henry, a Parson Jack Russell terrier that Thomas got after his divorce, a dog of great independence, dignity and forbearance, whom his master used to take mountaineering.
This is a delightful book, wry, funny and wise, and unmistakably the work of Julia Blackburn.