The mis­un­der­stood dog and ram­bunc­tious ghosts

Re­leases from au­thors in P.E.I. and New­found­land and Labrador com­i­cally prove nov­els try to imitate life

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - El­iz­a­beth Cran is a free­lance writer who writes a book re­view col­umn for The Guardian. To com­ment or to send her books to re­view, write her at her new ad­dress: 95 Or­ange St., Apt. 101, Saint John N.B., E2L 1M5, or call her at 506-693-5498.

A tragi-comic novel may well be the best kind. Af­ter all, life is like that, and most nov­els try to imitate life, in some way.

Here we have not one, but two fine ex­am­ples of the kind, one from Prince Ed­ward Is­land and one from New­found­land and Labrador.

From the Is­land comes “Molly and Com­pany’’ by Mar­garet A. Westlie. It’s a se­quel to “Shades of Molly’’, a story set in a nurs­ing home, and full of ram­bunc­tious ghosts. At a cost of $18.95, it is avail­able at Is­land book­stores and on­line.

The book from New­found­land and Labrador is called “The True Con­fes­sions of a Badly Mis­un­der­stood Dog’’. Au­thor Bill Rowe, politi­cian, colum­nist, nov­el­ist, and more, has been de­light­ing and an­noy­ing read­ers for many years. Pub­lished by Flanker, it costs $19.95. The story is fic­tion­al­ized, fea­tur­ing pho­tos of “the orig­i­nal Durf ’’ on the back pages.

There are no pic­tures of Molly in the book, named for her. Here’s an ex­am­ple of the di­a­logue: “What’s this about a ghost hunt?” said Molly.

“This guy had an ac­ci­dent,” said Mary Ann, “and he’s been in a coma, and the last cou­ple of days strange things have been hap­pen­ing in his house. His wife is in the house alone and she’s scared out of her wits.”

Th­ese words come early in the story of Molly and her friends, hu­mans and are ghostly. The book is mainly con­cerned with Wil­lie Poste, a renowned artist and a nasty man, who’s hov­er­ing be­tween life and death. He’s sent over to Molly, Lucy and Larry to see if they can re­ha­bil­i­tate him be­fore he has to go back to mor­tal life. In a beau­ti­ful meadow with a brook run­ning through, they work at it with dif­fi­culty be­cause of Wil­lie’s inherent lack of co-op­er­a­tion.

Mean­while, the hu­man ghost hun­ters are hav­ing a lot of trou­ble try­ing to find who is do­ing the haunt­ing.

The di­a­logue in this book es­pe­cially life­like. The story reads fast and well with no bumps caused by mis­takes in lan­guage.

If you haven’t fig­ured out where the tragedy comes in, read the book.

The badly mis­un­der­stood dog tells its own story. At first, the dog thinks he’s hu­man as he plays with Nice Boy and Nice Girl, his hu­man fam­ily. Then he grad­u­ally comes to be­lieve he’s in charge of the whole house­hold. His at­ti­tude to the two cats is am­bigu­ous. His mis­ad­ven­tures are funny and sad, and al­ways well-writ­ten. Def­i­nitely a book to read.

El­iz­a­beth Cran

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