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Gigi K. (Lufkin,, TX)
About 1/3 of the way through the book I said "I don't need this in my life right now". I felt a lot of conflict because of the dilemmas facing all of the characters. I almost never put a book down without finishing it so after a few days I picked up the book again and finished it. I'm still not sure why I felt so personally involved, but it was not an emotionally easy book for me. I am not a dog person nor have I been involved personally with war so don't know the origin of the conflict. I think it was the sharing of such intimacy that had to be done in the story that was unsettling to me. I felt the writing was well done and had to look up a few words I didn't know the meaning of and I always like that. I think the book would be a good one for book clubs.
Nan G. (Mazomanie, WI)
The perfect fall read
Stunning in its simplicity and grace, A Man of His Own touched this reader deeply. The characters, including and most importantly, Pax, felt authentic and the subject is one that is particularly timely. Wilson has written a book that I will recommend to anyone wanting to know more about the bond between service animals and their companions.
Linda M. (Three Oaks, MI)
A Man of His Own by Susan Wilson
Give me a book with a dog as a main character and, in my opinion, you have the makings of a great story. I should mention I am the owner of three dogs and two cats, so there is a little prejudice here. Regardless, this was a great read with a lot more going on than just the bond between man and animal. Rick Stanton, a professional baseball player, had his career cut short due to debilitating injuries suffered during World War II. His lovely wife, Francesca, while coping with his physical injuries must also wade through the psychological scars that come with a loss of limb and heart. And then there is Keller Nicholson, a man with no real emotional roots, who forges the strongest of relationships with Pax, Rick's and Francesca's dog, whom they volunteered for the military's K-9 program during the war. The four of them come together under one roof and the dynamic that plays out is very complex with Pax serving as the conduit between the three of them. Wilson builds the drama as Rick starts the slow slide to suicide while Francesca and Keller negotiate through a fragile relationship. Francesca is almost saintly in her devotion to her husband, but Wilson plays the attraction between her and Keller with great aplomb. You really have to get to the end of the book to see how it all comes together. Finally, Ms. Wilson deftly incorporates the important role the K-9 patrols played in aiding soldiers during war and how valuable an asset these wonderful animals can be to those who are infirmed.
Vicki O. (Boston, MA)
Let there be Pax
I requested this book because I enjoy books in which dogs play a major role and that was certainly the case with this engrossing and sensitive novel. When, in the Prologue we meet the Pax, puppy abandoned by his mother, it is pretty clear that he is a survivor and is sure to become pivotal in the lives of the other characters, Richard, Francesca and Keller. And that he does. The author tells the story from the point of view of each character, including Pax, and it is very effective. There are dog books and there are dog books and this is one that soars to the top of my list.
Patricia S. (Yankton, SD)
Be prepared to cry
Every dog should have a man of his own. Pax is one lucky dog. He has two. Very different, but each tugging equally at his heart, Pax must serve both the master who rescued him as a cold starving pup and the master he rescued from a lonely, loveless life. The bonds forged by war and suffering expand to include both men, dog, and woman as Pax illustrates the power of love to heal and endure. The ending of this novel is not only appropriate but magical. This is a book that touches the heart. While a love of dogs doesn't hurt, it may enhance the appeal of this enthralling novel by Susan Wilson.
Corinne S. (Paoli, PA)
Healing mind, body, and soul
Rick Stanton invites me into his inner-life as I read his story. Witnessing his journey, pain, suffering, and moments of joy as he rescues Pax and bonds with him creates deep feelings within me. Rick grows his family by falling in love with Francesca and marrying her, but then his duty to country forces his path to change, and he heads to war. Broken in spirit and body he returns to his wife and home, but now Pax is on a tour of his own serving in the military as an Army K-9 Corp dog. He has a new handler named Keller.
Carol R. (Foster City, CA)
Definitely not just a dog story
Pax and Keller build a solid relationship during their tour of duty. Pax, severely injured during a battle, returns to Rick and Francesca, but what will happen to Keller's strong relationship with Pax? How can both men keep their relationship and love for Pax? What will Stanton, Keller, and Pax learn by sharing their lives, and healing both body and mind? Book groups, deeply drawn into their story, will present their own suggestions of how to get the relationships to work.
This book grabbed my attention and didn't let go. A wonderful, perceptive guide dog unifies three damaged people. The story is told in short chapters, alternating between the "voices" of the characters and the dog. Throughout it, I wondered if it was historical fiction. It depicted the years immediately during and after WWII in a way that seemed completely realistic. The story is detailed, sad, happy, uplifting. You won't see the ending coming - and it is perfect!
Marie A. (Warner, NH)
A Man Of His Own
So much more than what I had expected...
Using different points of view, Susan Wilson, with great simplicity and understanding, has written a heartwarming story of pain, complex relationships, and believable conflict resolutions.
This is much more than a dog story, though Pax is a major force in the story and its outcomes. It is a story of WWII and how it changed the lives, personalities, attitudes, and futures of Rick, Francesca, Keller, and Pax. It is a story of love--rebuilding and renewing past love, finding love, unrequited love, and, of course, unconditional love. And it is a story of healing and the incredible role Pax plays.
The author displays a knack for storytelling, a deep understanding of the restoration of the human spirit, and a keen knowledge of the healing capabilities of a canine companion. All of this in one novel--BRAVO!