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One Good Dog

Overview

Acclaimed author Susan Wilson brings us a touching yet unblinkingly authentic tale of loss and rediscovery, of true friendship and learning what’s truly important in life.

One note. Three words. And Adam March’s well-ordered life and well-laid plans are shattered.

The very definition of a hard-nosed businessman, Adam March has no room in his life for anything but the cold drive to succeed. Not for his social-climbing wife or for his rebellious ...

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One Good Dog

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Overview

Acclaimed author Susan Wilson brings us a touching yet unblinkingly authentic tale of loss and rediscovery, of true friendship and learning what’s truly important in life.

One note. Three words. And Adam March’s well-ordered life and well-laid plans are shattered.

The very definition of a hard-nosed businessman, Adam March has no room in his life for anything but the cold drive to succeed. Not for his social-climbing wife or for his rebellious teenage daughter. Then, in an instant, he loses everything. Due to an untimely collision of arrogance, stress, circumstance, and a momentary loss of self-control, Adam finds himself alone, unemployed, and reduced to bussing tables in a homeless shelter, serving men he’d always gone out of his way to avoid.

One instant of opportunity. Enough for one dog to find his freedom.

Chance was born in an inner-city cellar, a mix of pit bull and God-knows-what. Bred to fight, and damn good at it, he lived in a dank, dark, and vicious world. Not that he wished for something better; that world was all he knew. But when the moment presented itself, Chance made the most of it in a new life on the street, for a little while.

Two lives. Two second chances.

Thrown together, Adam and Chance fill the holes in each other’s lives. Adam gives Chance his first real home, a haven he never could have imagined, while Chance gives Adam a new start. And a new heart.

That’s One Good Dog.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for One Good Dog

"Those who ate up Marley and Me will want to check out Wilson’s novel, which follows a disgraced millionaire who finds a friend in a scruffy pit bull."—EntertainmentWeekly.com

"A love story between man and dog…you’ll cry at the end."—USA Today

"One Good Dog belongs on the top of everyone’s reading list."—Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

"Nowhere can we see the potential for our own redemption more clearly than in the eyes of our dog. Susan Wilson illustrates this truth poignantly and beautifully in this story of second chances."—Tami Hoag, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Cold Cold Heart

"Fans of Marley and Me will find a new dog to cheer for in Wilson’s insightful heart-tugger...Chance tells his story in his own words, which makes his mistreatment and return to the fighting pit powerfully disturbing. Combined with Wilson’s unflinching portrayal of Adam’s struggle to overcome his past, Old Yeller ‘s got nothing on this very good man and his dog story."—Publishers Weekly

"A finely wrought story of second chances and also of the power of the human/canine bond, the amazing and myriad ways in which dogs can touch and make better people’s lives. As Chance himself so aptly puts it, ‘What else could I have done? I’m only canine, I had to help’."—Bark magazine

"Evokes both laughter and tears, but the ending assures you that humans and dogs are capable of redemption."—Library Journal

"Susan Wilson’s evocative and deeply moving novel reminds us that even the most unlikely human can also find redemption, sometimes, with a little help from a canine friend." Melissa Jo Peltier, New York Times bestselling co-author of Cesar’s Way

"One Good Dog equals one great book!"—Rita Mae Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Purrfect Murder

"One Good Dog will make you cry, will make you laugh, will make you feel things more than you thought possible—and it will make you believe in second chances."—Augusten Burroughs, New York Times bestselling author of Running with Scissors and This is How

"One Good Dog is a wonderful novel of healing and redemption."—Spencer Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of Dog on It

"Anybody who has ever loved a dog—-or been ‘a pack of two,’ as Chance so aptly puts it—will love One Good Dog…I hope Susan Wilson sits and stays—forever."—Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog and Keep Quiet

"One Good Dog is a terrific book that held me from beginning to end!"—Iris Johansen, New York Times #1 bestselling author of Sight Unseen

"I was so moved by Susan Wilson’s writing: her understanding of the lost, in the language of the wild."—Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author of The Lemon Orchard

Publishers Weekly
Fans of Marley and Me will find a new dog to cheer for in Wilson's (Beauty) insightful heart-tugger about Adam March, a Boston man recovering from the shame of a foolish crime, and Chance, a scrappy pit bull mix trying to escape the illegal dogfight circuit. Adam, 46, is a ruthless self-made millionaire married to an icy socialite living a picture-perfect existence that includes a teen princess daughter. Then he loses his job for slapping his assistant, Sophie, full across the face after she gives him a message that reads: “Your sister called.” Forty years ago, Adam's sister, Veronica, ran away leaving Adam with their widowed dad, who subsequently placed Adam into foster care. For his violent act, Adam is sentenced to perform community service at a homeless men's shelter where the adorable Chance teaches Adam about survival and what matters. Chance tells his story in his own words, which makes his mistreatment and return to the fighting pit powerfully disturbing. Combined with Wilson's unflinching portrayal of Adam's struggle to overcome his past, Old Yeller's got nothing on this very good man and his dog story. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Readers of Wilson's other novels, mainly women's romantic fiction romances in the vein of Kristin Hannah (e.g., Cameo Lake), are in for a big surprise. Adam March is a rising star in the corporate world when he explodes and slaps his female assistant. His fall from a great height leaves him doing community service at a homeless shelter, with no job, no income, and almost no money after a divorce. Doing a favor for the shelter's head, he takes on a rescued pit bull that had once been used in dog fights. The last thing Adam wants is a dog, but Chance helps Adam learn what is truly important, and Adam rescues Chance from the brutally short life of a fighter. VERDICT Narrated in two voices, Adam's and Chance's, this work will remind readers of Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain and should appeal to dog lovers and fans of Spencer Quinn's Dog on It. It evokes both laughter and tears, but the ending assures you that humans and dogs are capable of redemption.—Susan T. Hayes, Chattahoochee Valley Libs., Columbus, GA\
Kirkus Reviews
Wilson (Summer Harbor, 2003, etc.) goes straight for the emotional jugular with a tale of two battle-scarred survivors, one human, one canine, learning mutual need and trust. Man and dog rehabilitate themselves and each other in his shrewdly engineered tale of twin catastrophes and redemption. Adam March's fall from grace is self-made, the inevitable collapse of a Don Draper-esque life built on the rocky foundations of concealed origins. Destabilized by the thought that his estranged sister, last seen 40 years ago, has re-entered his high-powered, high-maintenance existence, Adam loses self-control and commits "a self-immolating act of breathtaking nihilism"-he slaps his personal assistant. Instantly he jeopardizes everything: marriage, job, wealth and social standing. Recast as a nobody, sentenced to community service in a homeless shelter while attending anger-management therapy, Adam must learn some humility. Chance is a pit bull mix born into brutality and bred to fight. Man and dog don't exactly bond when Adam accidentally reprieves Chance from the pound (he was looking for the missing pet of a distraught homeless-shelter denizen), but over time their relationship warms up, encouraged by an attractive local pet-shop owner. A third-person account of Adam's story alternates with Chance's dog's-eye perspective as each character touches bottom and is redeemed by his counterpart in the other species. The story closes in a rush of reconciliation, a sob or two, and wiser, happier humans and canines all round. An irresistible, if one-dimensional, cocktail of salvation and sentiment. First printing of 100,000
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250059796
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/30/2014
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 202,869
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Wilson is the bestselling author of the novels The Dog Who Danced, One Lucky Dog, and A Man of His Own. She also wrote Beauty, a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which was made into a CBS-TV movie. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

“Sophie.” Adam March doesn’t look up from the rectangle of paper in his hand. His tone is, as always, even, and no louder than it should be to reach across his executive-size office, through the open mahogany door, and to the ears of his latest personal assistant. On the pink rectangle of a “While You Were Out” memo slip, in Sophie’s preferred lilac-colored ink and written in her loopy handwriting, are three simple words that make no sense to Adam March. Your sister called. Not possible. Time and date of call: yesterday afternoon, while he was enduring what he hoped was the last of the meetings he was going to have to hold before today’s main event. A meeting in which he’d given a combination pep talk and take-no-prisoners mandate to his handpicked team.

Adam flips the pink note back and forth against the knuckles of his left hand. This is a mistake. Sophie has made a mistake. Not her first. Lately he’s been noticing these little slips of judgment, of carelessness, of Sophie’s slightly less than deferential attitude. As if she’s not a subordinate, but a peer. Too many late nights when the jacket comes off, the tie is loosened, and the sleeves are rolled up. Too many weary hours leaning over her as she works on her computer, struggling to make every document perfect. She’s made a common mistake: Being in the trenches together doesn’t mean that they are friends, that he will overlook sloppiness.

Adam closes his eyes, takes a deep breath. The most important day of his career and it’s already started out badly.

His alarm hadn’t gone off. Which meant he hadn’t had time for his run around the gravel jogging paths of his gated neighborhood, which meant he had lost that thirty minutes of “me time” he needed so desperately before a day filled with meetings, conference calls, at least one confrontation with middle management, and, at the end of the day, a dinner party his wife, Sterling, had planned in order to befriend the newest neighbors, the Van Arlens, before someone else got them. The Van Arlens, it was believed, had connections to the best people. People who were useful to anyone interested in social advancement and really good schools for their children. Which basically summed up Sterling.

Adam had no objection to a get-to-know-you dinner; he just preferred not to have them on the same day as so much else was going on in his life. But then, if they waited until he had a slow day, they’d still be living in Natick and their daughter wouldn’t be enjoying the connections that would serve her for the rest of her life. It was hard work, laying the groundwork for social/business/education/recreational pathways for a teenage daughter who greeted him with ill-disguised sullenness when he made the effort to show up for one or another of her endless sports in time for the final score.

When Adam thought about having kids, he’d pictured himself the Ward Cleaver of his family—wise, loving, adored. Ariel hadn’t been wryly mischievous like Beaver, or devoted like Wally. Adam hadn’t heard an understandable phrase out of her mouth in years, every mumble directed at the table, or muttered behind her long blond hair. The only time he saw her face was when he attended her horse shows, when her hair was scraped back and under her velvet-covered helmet. But then she blended in with the other girls, all pink cheeks and tight breeches and blue coats. Sometimes he rooted for the wrong girl/horse combination. To say nothing of the fact that all the horses looked alike, too. To Adam, horse shows were a tortuous and endless replication of the same blue coat, black helmet, brown horse racing around the course, and then the girl crying when a rail was knocked or a time fault incurred or because the horse was crazy, lazy, lame, or just plain stupid.

Except for Ariel’s drive to become some kind of horse-jumping champion, a goal at which Adam had thrown great handfuls of money, she was an enigma to him. Yet this is why he worked so hard. This and Sterling’s four-carat dinner ring and her personal fitness gurus, one at each of the three homes they owned—Sylvan Fields, Wellington, Florida, and Martha’s Vineyard—the support of an increasingly large staff and their illegal cousins; and the cadre of financial managers to make sure he didn’t pay more taxes than he should. They, unlike most of the rest of the people he employed, were very, very good.

At age forty-six, Adam March had found himself, on this overcast morning, pressing his forehead against the bathroom mirror and wishing he didn’t have to go to work. Not only had his alarm failed him but the housekeeper had failed—again—to have the made-to-order granola he needed. Nowhere in the giant pantry could he put his hands on the imported cereal he preferred. All he could find was the crap Ariel ate. With a childhood fed on cornflakes, now he could afford the best in breakfast food, so was it too much to ask that he find his granola when he wanted it? The sheer cost of importing it from Norway had to be justified by his eating it every day. But beyond that, without it, his bowels wouldn’t function, and if that system also failed him, Adam knew that he was in danger of really losing his temper, and it might be that this housekeeper would be the biggest loser once he was done with her. Which, of course, he couldn’t even consider until after this dinner party. To fire the stupid bitch today would mean that Sterling’s ire would overshadow his, until his temper and his bowels would shrink to a pipsqueak size.

Sterling, blond, whippet-thin, and sleeping the peaceful sleep of the person in charge of everything, was a force to be reckoned with, and Adam wasn’t about to unleash that power on a day so patently important to her. Not for her own sake, she so often said, but for his sake. His advancement, their only child’s advancement. It was social warfare out there, and Sterling provided the leadership of a general over her troops. “We have to be seen; we have to support the right charities.” Their name even appeared as supporters on a PBS documentary series. “We need to attend the right concerts. If you intend to succeed, that’s the price you have to pay.” That was but one of Sterling’s cheerleading themes. Some might say that Adam March had already succeeded. What more could he want? Some men might want strings of letters following their names, others the glory that came from leadership in the arts, the sciences, the political arena. Adam lusted after three letters: C E O. Chief Executive Officer. Such an achievement was no longer dependent on moving up in the ranks of promotions and cultivating years in the same company. It was more of a hopscotch of leaps across and over, one foot down, now two, from corporation to corporation, allowing himself to be seduced away from one major executive role to another. Manager, Vice President of Acquisitions or Division. A rise that came with a move to a bigger house in a better—read: more exclusive—neighborhood, another vacation home where he’d spend most of his time on his phone, too afraid to be out of touch for more than the time it took to use the bathroom, more BlackBerrys. More expense. Some days Adam felt like he didn’t have two coins to rub together. All of his salary and bonuses seemed to be absorbed into this machine of ambition. Still, the ripe red cherry of the top post was just out of reach. But not for long. After today, Adam’s elevation to the ultimate spot on the ladder at Dynamic Industries would be secure. President and CEO.

But this morning, all Adam had wanted for himself was a bowl of Norwegian granola and a fucking run through the contrived landscape of his most recent gated neighborhood. He wanted his “me time,” thirty minutes to call his own, leaving the Bluetooth behind, keeping his head down and his eyes only on the path so that he didn’t have to wave at neighbors or their help. His best ideas often came to him during that thirty minutes.

There was only one thing stopping Adam from just taking his run and going into work a bit late. He held himself and his staff to a rigorous standard of punctuality. Adam March entered his office at precisely seven-thirty every day. Not one minute before or after. It was a source of incredible satisfaction to him that people could set their watches by him. Adam believed that timeliness was an art and a science. Despite the ten-mile commute and all the variables of traffic, Adam arrived on time. And woe betide the staffer in his group who wasn’t there to greet him. Adam required simple things of people, the sine qua non of his expectation: Be on time. The groups that wandered into the building here and there, untaxed by punctuality, smacked of a basic sloppiness he would not allow in his.

Adam stared at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, looking at an attractively craggy face, his morning shadow of dark beard firming up a jaw that had only just begun to soften. He stared into his own cold brown eyes, eyes that had earned him the nickname, “Dead Eye.” A nickname he didn’t find offensive, but grudgingly affectionate. A face with gravitas. A face suited to the take-no-prisoners deal maker he had become.

If there was a shadow of an angry, grizzled man in the mirror, Adam swept it away with a brushful of French milled shaving soap.

Adam runs a hand down his silk tie, tucks the strange note into his jacket pocket. Sophie is still AWOL. He stares at her empty chair and, for the first time in many years, wonders about his sister.

Sophie’s armless secretary’s chair is cocked at an angle, as if its occupant weighs more on one side. Her computer screen with the Microsoft logo drifting around speaks of her having been on the computer opening up the e-mails that she will either forward to him or to his underlings or delete as unworthy. It isn’t enough that she’s in the building. Sophie needs to be at her desk when he arrives.

Adam lays the offending piece of memo paper down and opens up his old-fashioned top-loading briefcase. He can’t remember what he’s looking for. There she is, slinking back to her desk with a giant paper coffee cup in one hand, a pastry in the other. Even from deep in his office, Adam can see that she has a flake of icing on her chin. Now Sophie really is testing him. Instead of dropping everything and grabbing her notebook, she leans over her computer keyboard and taps the mouse. She is checking her e-mail. On his time. Outrageous. Sophie knows this is an important day. What can be more important to her than getting her marching orders from him? He’s really getting tired of her insubordination.

Your sister called.

 

Excerpted from One Good Dog by Susan Wilson.

Copyright  2010 by Susan Wilson.

Published in March 2010 by St. Martin’s Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Reading Group Guide

1. What explains Adam March’s outrageous attack on Sophie?

2. Why do you think the author used the first person in telling Chance’s story?

3. There are two protagonists in this story. How would the reading experience change if we saw only one side?

4. What is Adam’s initial attitude toward Chance?

5. How does that attitude reflect his attitude in general and the situation he’s in?

6. When Adam breaks down, what motivates Chance to approach him?

7. What does Chance think of his “career” as a fighter?

8. Should Adam forgive his father?

9. What role does Gina play in Adam’s personal growth?

10. Describe Adam’s relationship with his daughter Ariel. Does his childhood impact this relationship, and if so, how?

11. Does Adam relate at all to the boys he encounters on the street? How so?

12. What are Adam’s three sins and does he overcome them?

13. In this story, men are living on the streets as well as dogs. Are you more likely to support animal shelters or homeless shelters?

14. Conventional wisdom believes that fighting pit bulls cannot be rehabilitated. In many cities, a dog that has been known to fight is automatically put down. Do you think that a character like Chance is realistic? Does he change your mind about pit bulls?

15. In the end, has Adam been redeemed?

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