White Dog Fell from the Sky: A Novel

White Dog Fell from the Sky: A Novel

4.6 15
by Eleanor Morse
     
 

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An extraordinary novel of love, friendship, and betrayal for admirers of Abraham Verghese and Edwidge Danticat

Eleanor Morse’s rich and intimate portrait of Botswana, and of three people whose intertwined lives are at once tragic and remarkable, is an absorbing and deeply moving story.

In apartheid South Africa in 1977, medical student Isaac

Overview

An extraordinary novel of love, friendship, and betrayal for admirers of Abraham Verghese and Edwidge Danticat

Eleanor Morse’s rich and intimate portrait of Botswana, and of three people whose intertwined lives are at once tragic and remarkable, is an absorbing and deeply moving story.

In apartheid South Africa in 1977, medical student Isaac Muthethe is forced to flee his country after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force. He is smuggled into Botswana, where he is hired as a gardener by a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who has abandoned her Ph.D. studies to follow her husband to Africa. When Isaac goes missing and Alice goes searching for him, what she finds will change her life and inextricably bind her to this sunburned, beautiful land.

Like the African terrain that Alice loves, Morse’s novel is alternately austere and lush, spare and lyrical. She is a writer of great and wide-ranging gifts.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In 1976, South Africa's apartheid policy forces medical student Isaac Muthethe to leave family behind for the shelter of a more democratic Botswana. There he encounters two people who will alter the trajectory of his well-planned life. Hired by idealistic American Alice Mendelssohn, Isaac becomes a trusted gardener and caretaker. Alice, traveling on government business, embarks on a passionate affair with the older, charismatic Ian, a man whose love of Africa matches her own, while Isaac becomes involved with a friend from home, now a member of the South African resistance. When two acts of violence, one natural and one human-made, put a cruel end to the dreams of each character, the infinite, healing power of love is put to the test. VERDICT Recipient of a Best Regional Fiction in the Northeast award for An Unexpected Forest, Morse writes heartbreakingly of isolation, loss, and the soul-deadening effect of torture. Her mesmerizing descriptions of Africa will leave readers wondering how a continent of such beauty can harbor so much evil. Like Vaddey Ratner's In the Shadow of the Banyan or Chris Bohjalian's The Sandcastle Girls, this is for readers unafraid to plumb the depths of human emotion.—Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Myers, FL
From the Publisher
"White Dog Fell From the Sky catches the soul of compassion. It is one of the wisest, most comprehensive, most compelling books I've ever read. Neither human nor beast is treated sentimentally, but the capacity to care is celebrated here in a way that is politically and personally cogent.  It's a wild and wooly story in a far away land, yet its relevance is present in our own imperfect hearts: who and how to love and when and why to stop. Here's the real thing, a book of genuine intellect and inspiration, superbly written, fascinating."- Sena Jeter Naslund, New York Times bestselling author of Ahab's Wife, Abundance and Adam & Eve

“Magic, friendship, the tragedy of apartheid and the triumph of loyalty are recounted in poetic, powerful prose by this unconventional and intelligent writer. Shattering and uplifting.”—Kuki Gallmann, author of I Dreamed of Africa

“Eleanor Morse captures the magic of the African landscape and the terror and degradation of life under apartheid…[She] channels her fascination with the factious regions into her courageous characters, whose story roars along and arrives, finally, at hope.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
 

"There are not enough adjectives to describe the strength of this story. Eleanor Morse has written a character driven novel with character. White Dog Fell From the Sky has a life of its own that blends reality, insight, observation, and nuance with such ease and grace you forget you are reading...A powerful story of love—love of a person, a people, a land and living with purpose...Emotionally riveting, heartbreaking, and at times unbearable, while simultaneously embracing hope, insight, and a sense of perpetual mystery. Each sentence is more beuatiful than the last."—Gabriel Constans, New York Journal of Books

 

"White Dog Fell from the Sky is that rare thing: a convinced and convincing love story. Past that—and this novel’s reach is wide—it reminds us, tellingly, how Africa is mother of us all.”—Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls’ Rising and The Color of Night

“Big issues of ecology, politics, borders, race relations, art, and history.”—Hazel Rochman, Booklist
 

"Morse brings the natural world of Botswana to vivid life."—Kirkus Reviews

“Brutal and beautiful…it explores the strength and friendship, the bonds of love, and the inhumanity regimes are capable of inflicting upon individuals…Morse’s unflinching portrayals of extremes of loyalty and cruelty make for an especially memorable novel.”—Publishers Weekly

“Morse’s descriptions of the vast landscapes of Botswana are specific and ravishing.”—BookPage
 
“Lyrical and quite beautiful, with searing descriptions of the dusty earth, unforgiving sun, and stark skies.”—Entertainment Weekly
 

“The infinite, healing power of love is put to the test…Morse writes heartbreakingly of isolation, loss, and the soul-deadening effect of torture. Her mesmerizing descriptions of Africa will leave readers wondering how a continent of such beauty can harbor so much evil…This is for readers unafraid to plumb the depths of human emotions.”—Library Journal

“Breathtaking beauty, next to danger and hardships and make-do living…Witness it in all its terrible randomness.”—The Dallas Morning News
 
“Eleanor Morse writes with sympathy and precision, sensitive to the dislocations of race and class – the grave imbalance of power…The book unfolds into stories both tragic and transcendent.”—Boston.com

 

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101606209
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/03/2013
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
137,437
File size:
692 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"White Dog Fell From the Sky catches the soul of compassion. It is one of the wisest, most comprehensive, most compelling books I've ever read. Neither human nor beast is treated sentimentally, but the capacity to care is celebrated here in a way that is politically and personally cogent.  It's a wild and wooly story in a far away land, yet its relevance is present in our own imperfect hearts: who and how to love and when and why to stop. Here's the real thing, a book of genuine intellect and inspiration, superbly written, fascinating."- Sena Jeter Naslund, New York Times bestselling author of Ahab's Wife, Abundance and Adam & Eve

“Magic, friendship, the tragedy of apartheid and the triumph of loyalty are recounted in poetic, powerful prose by this unconventional and intelligent writer. Shattering and uplifting.”—Kuki Gallmann, author of I Dreamed of Africa

“Eleanor Morse captures the magic of the African landscape and the terror and degradation of life under apartheid…[She] channels her fascination with the factious regions into her courageous characters, whose story roars along and arrives, finally, at hope.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
 

"There are not enough adjectives to describe the strength of this story. Eleanor Morse has written a character driven novel with character. White Dog Fell From the Sky has a life of its own that blends reality, insight, observation, and nuance with such ease and grace you forget you are reading...A powerful story of love—love of a person, a people, a land and living with purpose...Emotionally riveting, heartbreaking, and at times unbearable, while simultaneously embracing hope, insight, and a sense of perpetual mystery. Each sentence is more beuatiful than the last."—Gabriel Constans, New York Journal of Books

  "White Dog Fell from the Sky is that rare thing: a convinced and convincing love story. Past that—and this novel’s reach is wide—it reminds us, tellingly, how Africa is mother of us all.”—Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls’ Rising and The Color of Night

“Big issues of ecology, politics, borders, race relations, art, and history.”—Hazel Rochman, Booklist
 

"Morse brings the natural world of Botswana to vivid life."—Kirkus Reviews

“Brutal and beautiful…it explores the strength and friendship, the bonds of love, and the inhumanity regimes are capable of inflicting upon individuals…Morse’s unflinching portrayals of extremes of loyalty and cruelty make for an especially memorable novel.”—Publishers Weekly

“Morse’s descriptions of the vast landscapes of Botswana are specific and ravishing.”—BookPage
 
“Lyrical and quite beautiful, with searing descriptions of the dusty earth, unforgiving sun, and stark skies.”—Entertainment Weekly
 

“The infinite, healing power of love is put to the test…Morse writes heartbreakingly of isolation, loss, and the soul-deadening effect of torture. Her mesmerizing descriptions of Africa will leave readers wondering how a continent of such beauty can harbor so much evil…This is for readers unafraid to plumb the depths of human emotions.”—Library Journal

“Breathtaking beauty, next to danger and hardships and make-do living…Witness it in all its terrible randomness.”—The Dallas Morning News
 
“Eleanor Morse writes with sympathy and precision, sensitive to the dislocations of race and class – the grave imbalance of power…The book unfolds into stories both tragic and transcendent.”—Boston.com

 

Meet the Author

Eleanor Morse is the author of An Unexpected Forest, which won the Independent Publisher’s Gold Medalist Award for the Best Regional Fiction in the Northeast U.S., and was selected winner of Best Published Fiction by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance at the 2008 Maine Literary Awards. She lives on Peaks Island, Maine.

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White Dog Fell from the Sky: A Novel 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
mellow More than 1 year ago
I liked the main character and learned some interesting things about Africa.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
White Dog Fell From The Sky. Eleanor Morse. Penguin Group (USA). December 2013. 368 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780143124436. It is sheer irony to be reading this novel four days after the great South African leader, Nelson Mandela, has been laid to rest in his hometown in South Africa. For Eleanor Morse has crafted the story of a white woman, Alice Mendelssohn, and a South African colored man, Isaac Muthethe, who lived through the perilous times in the late 70’s and did so much more than survive. 1976 – It is against the law for a colored person to be outside without a passport; it’s also against the law for them to enter certain stores, use public facilities reserved for white people, or look a white person directly in the eye, let alone to disagree with that person. It practically is against the law to live. Now it has become even more dangerous as the secret members of the ANC resistance movement are carrying out their protests against apartheid with violent acts. The South African Defense Forces in turn are killing ANC members or those suspected of being involved with the ANC. So Isaac, after seeing his best friend brutally killed, flees South Africa into neighboring Botswana. There a white dog “with the wisdom of ages” falls out of the sky and becomes Isaac’s devoted companion and guide. Isaac’s future as a medical student seems a dead goal since he is now considered an ANC member though he has never participated in any actions and attended only a couple of meetings. Isaac finally finds work as a gardener for Alice and learns to do a beautiful job with the help of an elderly gardener who lives nearby Alice’s home. Isaac’s goal is to save enough money for his sister and brother to go to school and to save his other brother from poverty and living as an outlaw. Much will happen to all in these pages but Isaac is one very dedicated and persevering proud black man. Alice, on the other hand, is about to undergo tremendous change as she chooses to leave an unfaithful man. She will mistrust many men before she finds one to trust and respect as well as love. They will share a journey in which the unrivaled immensity and unbridled cruelty of the African bush, the latter created by the white colonizers who now believe this ancient land is now their own home. The descriptions of the scenery and animals in this portion of the novel are nothing short of extraordinarily beautiful and lyrical. Isaac will undergo a phase in his life that is agonizingly painful to read but which the reader realizes must be told as the realistic truth that existed for far too many during that very violent historical period. Alice and her friend will ultimately prove to be saviors to both Isaac and his family but to tell that story here would be to deny the reader an amazing, well-researched, intriguing and phenomenal experience! Eleanor Morse is a literate, intelligent and gifted writer who has gifted the world with a classic work of vivid historical fiction. Highly, highly recommended!!!!!
An_Arkansas_Reader More than 1 year ago
Set in 1976, White Dog Fell From the Sky weaves together the stories of Isaac, a refugee fleeing from Apartheid in South Africa, and Alice, an American woman living in Botswana. Isaac's story was by far my favorite part of the book, and I would give his part of the story 5 stars. His thoughts are insightful and eloquent and he is very brave. With just the clothes on his back, he is forced to flee South Africa after witnessing a friend's murder. I did not find Alice's story nearly as engrossing. Her marriage falls apart and she begins a relationship with a man she meets on a business trip. Her relationship problems seem unimportant contrasted to Isaac's struggle. I found myself hurrying through the chapters about her to find out what would happen to Isaac. I would give her part of the book 3 stars, hence the four star average. Morse's writing was beautifully evocative, I will look forward to her next novel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This stunning novel is the story of two people whose lives intersect in 1970's Botswana: a young black medical student from South Africa, and an American woman who hires her as her gardener. It is well written, with wonderful characters; the author uses a different voice for each of her main characters, which adds to the charm of the novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very compelling book. The tragedy of apartheid,and a story you don,t want to miss.
DMCNY More than 1 year ago
This book is so well written. The choice of words and description is just so beautiful!! I would actually like to read it again and again.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! I hated for it to end!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a winner. The main character is one of the best I have encountered in a long time. I hated for the book to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago