Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
Romance; 256 pgs
(Movie version came out in 2005, directed by Gary David Goldberg)
My must see movie wish list is not nearly as long as my must read wish list, but occasionally the two share titles. I am generally a person who likes to read the book before seeing the movie, and so there are quite a few movies I have not gotten to simply because I have yet to read the book. Must Love Dogs was on that list for quite a while. I have wanted to see the movie since it first came out, only, well, it took me awhile to get to the book. But finally I can say I've seen the movie! Now that I've read the book.
From the Publisher:
Forty-year-old Sarah Hurlihy, a divorced preschool teacher whose life is her classroom, is about to meet her first date in more than a decade. It was the "Loves Dogs" that hooked her in the personal ad, and now she is scanning her neighborhood café for the man with a yellow rose. And find him she does, but he's the last person on earth she expects to find there . . .
In Must Love Dogs, hilarious missteps abound. Sarah's widowed father, Billy Hurlihy, with six adult kids, is seeing at least two women. And he and Sarah aren't the only Hurlihys with romantic challenges. Her brother Michael, for one, has a rocky marriage that Mother Teresa, his St. Bernard, just may put over the edge. With self-deprecating humor and a laugh-out-loud view of the way we live now, including shar pei/Labrador crosses and a transgenerational body-piercing experience, Must Love Dogs is a perfect beach read that melts the heartache of dating with warmth and humor.
Must Love Dogs was a fun way to spend an afternoon. I do not often read books like this, admittedly, and so think that played a big part in my delay in reading the book. I enjoyed it just the same. Sarah seems like the kind of person I might like to hang out with--and I just love her family. I think they and John Anderson were perhaps my biggest draw to the book. I confess there were moments I wanted to shake Sarah and point her in the right direction, but what would be the fun in that?
I liked how the author didn't gloss over how difficult it can be to start over after a failed marriage and in starting to date again. She also touched on ongoing marital issues and the challenges that are sometimes faced when the couple grows apart.
In the book, the reader is inside Sarah's head and sees the world through her eyes. As a result, not much is known about her possible love interests. The movie helps fill that out, however, complementing the book quite nicely.
The book and movie are quite different in several respects, but it didn't hurt my enjoyment of either. There's a lot less dating and more walking through Sarah's typical day in the book than there is in the movie. The mode of putting out an ad for dating was also different--likely a sign of the changing times from when the two were written. The movie had more obvious funny moments while the book took a more subtle approach. And, of course, there were some character changes-additions and cuts.
I bought into the movie romance more than I did of that in the book, but I think that is in part because the movie took it farther. Not only is the viewer given Sarah's perspective, but we also get the perspective of her love interest, Jake Anderson (John in the book). There's also the fact that the movie and book end on slightly different notes. One being your happily ever after type ending and the other being more of an introduction to that possibility. If that makes sense.
One thing I liked about the book more was the portrayal of Sarah's family. I felt like I got to know them much better in the book and I missed the interactions between Sarah and her niece in the movie. I think their relationship was a significant part of the book and was one of the reasons I was endeared to Sarah.
Overall, I enjoyed both the book and the movie. It's hard to say which I liked more--but for different reasons. Both were entertaining and a nice break from the more serious topics I have been reading lately.
You can learn more about Claire Cook and her books on the author's website.
Source: I purchased a copy of the book and movie for my own pleasure.