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Stanley and Sophie

Stanley and Sophie

by Kate Jennings

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Now in paperback, a wise and moving book about two border terriers and the woman who lost her heart to them.

“If Stanley had been a tad less overbearing and Sophie a tad more submissive, everything would have been fine rather than a roller-coaster of high drama and hurt feelings. The dynamic—part gender, part sibling—was familiar:


Now in paperback, a wise and moving book about two border terriers and the woman who lost her heart to them.

“If Stanley had been a tad less overbearing and Sophie a tad more submissive, everything would have been fine rather than a roller-coaster of high drama and hurt feelings. The dynamic—part gender, part sibling—was familiar: I’d lived it. How did it come about that I was spending my days adjudicat- ing between two dogs who were acting out the story of my life?”

Award-winning author Kate Jennings is a fiercely intelligent writer, an astute observer of people and her surround- ings, an irascible Australian with no time for indulgent New Yorkers and their pampered pets, and a recent widow not yet ready to face her grief.

Then she meets Stanley, “a tense bundle of muscle and sinew that stood seventeen inches high,” and her unexpected love affair began. Swept off her feet and surprised by the depth of her love, Jennings’s life is sud- denly overtaken by two border terriers: Stanley, and then a few years later, Sophie. First and foremost, Stanley & Sophie is a book about animals, understanding them, doing the best by them. But it is also a book about the way two rival- rous, demanding, idiosyncratic, exhilarating dogs gave Jennings
daily purpose and showed her the way to her own heart.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The canine psychodrama between Stanley and Sophie makes Britney and Kevin look calm and well-adjusted. As for Chico and Cheeky, the monkeys in this star-crossed story, they're the Heathcliff and Cathy of Bali. The book itself? Positively Proustian." — Simon Doonan, author of Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You

"I devoured this book. Kate Jennings has written a frank and eloquent memoir about her most private and public concerns. This is the story of two terriers who inadvertently mend the author's broken heart. They also change the way she views all living creatures. Jennings travels the world making connections between our pampered pets, pariah dogs, and two charming pigtailed macaques rescued from an Indonesian market. Insights into the myriad ways that animals sustain us spill out of this book. Jennings takes no prisoners. She will make you laugh, cry, and run out to get your own dog a big bone." — Elizabeth Hess, author of Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human

"Kate Jennings has brought all her human complexity into her feelings for two border terriers. There's nothing sentimental about this wondrous book — just unsparing truth, a trained eye for detail, and a beautifully clean style. This small book takes us from the East Side of Manhattan to the author's native Australia and on to Bali, but it also ferries us from grief to love to loss and back again to a dual sense of love and loss." — Edmund White, author of Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel

"Stanley and Sophie is a moving account of how we love and how we mourn: 'the fishhooks in the heart.'" — Michelle de Kretser, Melbourne Age

"She is witty and uncompromising in her portrayal of New York's canines and their owners." — The Sydney Morning Herald

"As a memoirist, Jennings is a natural...For border terrier fans and owners...this book will be an unmitigated delight." — Australian Book Review

Publishers Weekly

Novelist Jennings (Snake) has penned an affectionate-if uneven-memoir of life with two rambunctious border terriers, Stanley and Sophie, who become her "tonic" and greatest consolation following her husband's death after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Never really a dog person (she initially dismisses them as "handbags with a heartbeat"), the author changes her mind after falling in love with Stanley's "prickly, prideful, independent" spirit. Zippy chapters narrate the challenges of their cohabitation, the introduction of Sophie into their pack and a New York known only to dog owners. Jennings strikes jarring notes along the way, however, especially in failing to satisfyingly explore her grief after her husband's death. And in a bizarre twist that will be genuinely shocking to the reader-and despite her avowed adoration of her dogs-Jennings gives both away halfway through the book. Stanley and Sophie are rendered with such warmth and wit that the book suffers greatly from their sudden disappearance, and the author's decision-never elucidated-makes her seem less rather than more familiar as the memoir proceeds. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

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5.54(w) x 8.48(h) x 0.52(d)

Read an Excerpt


A Cappella

Joe Cocker, the rock star, was underestimated, even in his heyday. He had the voice of an angel and the appearance of a mental hospital patient. His signature song, unless you count "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," was the antiphonal Lennon-McCartney tune "With a Little Help from My Friends," which Cocker made his own by using waltz time and incorporating chorics with raw rock, much as the Rolling Stones did in "You Can't Always Get What You Want." My favorite part: Cocker's girl group carols, "Do you need anybody?" and Cocker confesses with distinctly manly candor, "I need someone to love." Then the girls ask, a cappella, "Would you believe in a love at first sight?" and he answers, "I'm certain that it happens all the time." I always shake my head at this. Doubtful. Very doubtful.

I've been insanely, destructively in love several times in my life, the details of which I'd rather not remember. (Neither adverb is an exaggeration; such was my derangement that certain people still walk out of a room when I walk into it. My excuse: I was young; it was the sixties; derangement, courtesy of R. D. Laing, had cachet.) And I was married for many years to a man for whom, I always said, I would walk a crooked mile. But love at first sight? No. The only time I've fallen in love at first sight was with dogs.

The first was Stanley, an aristocratic alpha male border terrier. Best of breed, pure princeling. (Kennel name: Bramblebee Borage, out of Wizard Notice of Bramblebee and Faithful One of Bramblebee.) The second was Sophie, a streetwise, scrappy, orphaned alpha female, also a border terrier, not to be confused with a border collie, an altogether different kind of dog. In my love for these two dogs lies a tale about human need, the kind that blots out all sense — in this case, the sense of having two rivalrous terriers with more volatility and energy than the ocean in a New York City apartment. Human need — immense subject.

And because Stanley came into my life in 2001 and Sophie in 2004, it's a tale, tangentially, about Manhattan in those first confounding, politically charged years of the new millennium. Years when our lives were a rhubarb of noisy emotion: a devil's chorus of fear, blatting rage, birring anxiety, tweedling incredulity, roupy sorrow.

Copyright © 2008 by Kate Jennings

Meet the Author

Kate Jennings was a student at the University of Sydney in the sixties where she began her career as a poet, essay- ist, and fiction-writer. In 1979 she moved to New York and later became an executive speechwriter for The Wall Street Journal. She has written for Self, Allure, New Woman, and many other magazines. The author of Snake, Women Falling Down in the Street, and Moral Hazard, she lives in New York City.

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