A Pug’s Tale
Berkley Trade, $15.00
About the book:
There are pugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art!
Hope McNeill has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for years, but this is the first time she’s been able to bring along her pug, Max. (Officially at least. Previously she’s had to smuggle him in inside her tote bag.)
The occasion: a special “Pug Night” party in honor of a deep-pocketed donor. Max and his friends are having a ball stalking the hors d’oeuvres and getting rambunctious, and making Hope wonder if this is also the last time she gets to bring Max to the museum.
But when a prized painting goes missing, the Met needs Hope’s–and Max’s–help. In her quest for the culprit, Hope searches for answers with an enigmatic detective, a larger-than-life society heiress, a lady with a shih tzu in a stroller, and her arguably intuitive canine. With luck, she’ll find some inspiration on her trips to Pug Hill before the investigation starts going downhill…
I can’t say enough (all good, of course) about this book. It was fun, it was compelling, it was believable, and it will have you fully engaged from page one. Hope is a charming (if a bit frazzled) heroine, one who is easy to like and root for; Max is just as charming, if not more so, and he had me wishing for a pug of my own before the book ended.
There’s so much to this book — the odd cast of characters that Hope has to contend with at work, which is a dreamy environment in and of itself; her bizarre encounters with Daphne, the wealthy benefactor who takes a shine to Hope; and, lest we forget, a very serious crime involving the theft of a valued painting. I found myself trying to decipher every clue and interpret every nuance of conversations and character quirks, right along with Hope, in the, well, hopes of solving the caper.
A Pug’s Tale is a fabulous romp through New York, through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and through Hope’s life. I recommend it highly to anyone who is looking for something different; a book that involves art and dogs and a little mystery but a whole lot of fun will definitely fit the bill. I can tell you this: After this introduction to Alison Pace, I will be adding ALL of her books to my reading list…and I can’t wait to devour those as well!
An Interview with Alison Pace
Alison Pace is the author of five novels: If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend (featuring Jane, an art gallery manager, and her dog), Pug Hill (the first in the Pug series), Through Thick and Thin (a story of two sisters, one of whom is a New York restaurant critic with a yoga-loving dog), City Dog (featuring Amy, a bestselling children’s author and her West Highland white terrier), and A Pug’s Tale. Her essays have appeared in several anthologies including It’s a Wonderful Lie: The Truth About Life in Your Twenties, Everything I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, and Howl: A Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit.
Alison lives in New York City where she teaches creative writing and is at work on another book.
KK: Tell me a little about your fascination with dogs. Where does that come from? And, do you have a favorite breed? I notice you flirt with different types in your novels.
AP: I grew up in a home where we had at least three dogs at any given time –at one point six. From earliest memories, dogs have always been a very big part of my life. I can honestly say there aren’t any dog breeds I don’t like…I think they’re all very special in their ways, along with mutts. I do write about dogs I’m particularly fond of, to wit: all the pugs.
KK: What do you see as your long-term plans with Hope and the Pug series?
AP: Ah, well, with writing, and with life, I try very hard not to get too far ahead of myself. For now I’m just thinking about what happens with Hope a little bit after that last scene. I’m a big percolator, so it might be a little while before it hits me as to exactly what she and Max will be up to next. I do know, though, that they will be up to something, and of course, looking for something. I’m very much looking forward to discovering what that is.
KK: It appears you draw a lot on your personal experience/interests/knowledge when you write. Do you think you’ll ever stray from that “formula”?
AP: Yes, in much of my writing I’m a write-what-you-know type. I love New York City and setting novels here. However, I’m also a big researcher at heart so I’m sure that as I continue to write novels, I’ll move to other places and topics. So far though, dogs and New York City and the mysteries of relationships have kept me very inspired.
KK: What books/authors hold a special place in your heart…and, of course, why?
AP: So many. But a few for starters: The Secret History for its brilliance and style and cleverness. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters for its terrific use of epistolary style and its poignancy. The Time Traveler’s Wife for its uniqueness and its success across genres…I love how it works so well as a love story, a literary novel and science fiction at once. Wuthering Heights for the angst and despair, and Bridget Jones’ Diary because at the time it was published it just so hit the nail on the head, was tremendously enjoyable and fun to read, and spawned a genre.
KK: Did you have one of those “enlightening” moments when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
AP: I always, always wanted to be a writer but for a long time I would think that I didn’t have a novel in me, and I imagine that was true for a certain amount of time. There was a period right after my 30th birthday in which I was in year three of a job I really hated and was going through a particularly awful breakup. It was a rainy Sunday and I spent the day in bed with a book, Sarah Mlynowski’s Milkrun. I remember finishing it and thinking, I want to do this. Then I started thinking, I can do this. And I started writing my novel. About six years ago, before that novel came out, I wrote to Sarah and told her of her inspiration. We went out to lunch and we’ve been very close friends and occasional writing partners ever since. In a nice twist, our most recent novels came out on the same day. Hers is Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have). I highly rec it.
KK: What is the best advice you can give to an aspiring writer?
AP: Write a little bit every day. Don’t give up. Take classes and join critique groups, online or in person. Look for inspiration everywhere. Always carry a notebook with you. Believe.
KK: Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite (why)?
AP: I always have two favorites: my first novel, If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend, and my most recent, so right now, that’s A Pug’s Tale. I also have extra love for A Pug’s Tale because it’s my first mystery and I so enjoyed writing a mystery, it was a whole new challenge.
Check out her website to learn more about Alison Pace
and her wonderful books!
I was not compensated for writing this review post. I was provided a copy of A Pug’s Tale for review. My opinions are honest.