The conceit at the heart of Mr. Chartwell - the re-envisioning of Winston Churchill's famous bouts of depression as actual visits from a huge, slobbery black dog - is not cutesy or trite, as the book jacket blurb might lead one to fear, but clever and disarming. Rebecca Hunt engages the topic of depression in an inventive way, and the result is not a grim dose of hard truth but a playful meditation on the human condition. This is a novel about depression that even a depressed person can enjoy - indeed, a depressed person might find it radically cheering.
Black Pat's emergence on the scene is broad comedy. Even though he is standing on his hind legs when Esther first opens the door ("a mammoth muscular dog about six foot seven high") and speaking like a gentleman, he soon regresses into dog-like behavior. Hunt's descriptions are exquisite, as the strange ...
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