Author: Polly McGee
Dogs of India is the debut novel of Tasmanian author Polly McGee and one of the first releases by innovative new company The Author People, co-founded by former Simon & Schuster MD Lou Johnson and Tom Galletta.
I am not quite sure how to approach this review and I’m still not quite sure how I felt about the book. The writing style was easy to read, the descriptions were vivid and really brought the landscape to life.
Many authors write animals that are characters in their own right, McGee has given this some extra depth employing anthropomorphism to completely humanize some of her animal characters.
The setting is New Delhi, a city overcrowded with beings of all species. Some of the humans of New Delhi have had enough of the vermin and are demanding the council remove them, sparking what is supposed to be a war on monkeys and pariah dogs.
The cast of characters is quite large and extremely diverse. Novels often have 2 or 3 main characters, a handful of important secondary characters and a bunch of extras; Dogs of India has more like half a dozen lead characters and that many secondary characters. The cast is huge and their ties begin quite tenuous but we watch them slowly strengthen.
Dogs of India is definitely a story with great depth; touching on politics, corruption, religion and Indian traditions. The plight of women is sensitively addressed and the characters aimed to raise awareness to help change things for women, to start them on the road to safety.
The council declared war on the animals but one of the monkeys, with a massive ego, had other ideas; as leader of the pack he trained his army and he waged war on the pariah dogs of the park.
Lola Wedd is an Australian with a broken heart and a taste for revenge. She gets herself tangled up in a situation that I would have thought is just for the movies, but is written so authentically that I’m starting to think maybe it really does happen. She arrives in India, a country she has fallen in love with from afar, for a three month stay and her background is fed to us slowly throughout the story.
I found Dogs of India to be a very slow burning book. The pacing was quite drawn out and it took me a while to really get involved. Early in the story Rocky the displaced house dog and Paksheet the macaque monkey leader get their introduction and it took me a while to warm to their leading roles in the narrative.
The subject matter was interesting and it was eye opening to get such a close up look at life in India, their traditions and religions but also the living conditions. My mother and sister have recently visited India and fell in love so this was quite an education for me.
All of the character threads were woven deftly into a vibrant cultural tapestry showing diversity and the depth of corruption while also demonstrating the loyalty, and the cunning, of animals. I would definitely recommend Dogs of India to anyone with an interest in the country.
Polly McGee has a unique voice and I will be interested to see where her writing career takes her.
Dogs of India is book #59 for the #Australian Women Writers’ Challenge 2015.
Dogs of India is available through The Author People.
For more information about Polly, visit http://www.theauthorpeople.com/polly-mcgee/