JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 883

The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne

Berne2Berne is an American writer known for her adept portrayals of family life. Like authors Carol Shields, Edith Pearlman, and Anne Tyler, Berne is a miniaturist, expertly focusing on the private lives of her characters.

In her 2013 novel The Dogs of Littlefield, Berne writes of a fictional Boston suburb whose inhabitants are upper middle class and educated. In the book, The Wall Street Journal names Littlefield as one of the “Twenty Best Places to Live in America.”  The town is home to 1,146 psychotherapists, 679 psychiatrists, 3 pizza parlors, 6 dog groomers, fine schools, and leafy streets.

However, like all of Berne’s books’ settings, darkness lurks in Littlefield. An off-leash proposal for dogs sets neighbor against neighbor. Then, mysteriously, several dogs are poisoned. Who amongst the residents is perpetrating these heinous acts?

Much of the plot focuses on Margaret Downing, a sympathetic wife and mother whose husband, Bill, no longer loves her. From the outside, her life seems picture perfect, but in truth, she suffers from acute anxiety, her teen daughter is snarky, and her dog is out of control. The dog, in fact, is a metaphor for the state of Margaret’s life. Other characters include George, a novelist (of sorts); Hedy, a widow whose radio talk shows provide day-long company; and Dr. Clarice Watkins, a sociologist who is secretly studying the effects of “good quality of life.”

The Dogs of Littlefield was first published in Great Britain in 2013 and was reviewed in a variety of literary journals at that time. In a December 21, 2013 review in The Guardian, writer Alex Clark calls the book “a cross between a comedy of manners and a whodunit.”  The novel can be read as social satire or as a deeper commentary on alienation. It is a little gem of a book—quirky, humorous, and poignant. As Clark’s review in The Guardian concludes: Berne has created an intriguing portrait of the kind of loneliness that can only exist in a crowd, and given the lie to all those surveys that suggest a place or its community can be summed up by its house prices, crime statistics and performance indicators.


Comments List

Excerpts is the library newsletter and comes out every three months. It is mailed to every Glencoe resident. Copies of the newsletter are available online (below) and at the library. Please be sure to check the library calendar for program updates.

2020 Issues

March 2020

June 2020

September 2020

2019 Issues

December 2019

September 2019

June 2019

March 2019

2018 Issues

December 2018

September 2018

March 2018

June 2018

2017 Issues

December 2017

March 2017

June 2017

September 2017

2016 Issues

December 2016

September 2016

March 2016

June 2016

2015 Issues

December 2015
September 2015
June 2015

March 2015

2014 Issues
December 2014
September 2014
June 2014
March 2014

2013 Issues
December 2013
September 2013
June 2013
March 2013

2012 Issues
December 2012
September 2012
June 2012
March 2012

2011 Issues
December 2011
September 2011
June 2011
March 2011

2010 Issues
December 2010
September 2010
June 2010
March 2010

2009 Issues
December 2009
September 2009
June 2009
March 2009

2008 Issues
December 2008