Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Book Review: Almost Perfect ~a novel~

Almost Perfect
If you like dogs, you need to watch the Westminster Dog Show on TV. I caught it during a workout one day. I've never been, but it is a highly staged, rigorous show where you can watch amazing canines who are beautifully groomed, well-loved, and well bred, who perform in the ring.

I was sent a book to review and it is a lovely novel, but it also explains the ins and outs of this show, whilst incorporating a joyful story. It is poignant, well-written, and well-edited. Manning learned the inner workings of dog show kennels by writing an authorized oral history of a lifetime President of the Poodle of Club of America.

I can identify with the heroine, Bess Rutledge, 'a cranky seventy-year- old' who dreams of winning the show, but, like many of us, too afraid to try in case she fails. I've given up on my dreams as circumstances have changed, it's something many of us have to do. Like me, and many of my clients, Bess is down-sizing, which includes retiring from the work she is no longer able to do, but which gives her such pleasure. Many of my clients are living their golden years, still longing for their busy lifestyles!
"Mummy wants me to do what?"

My friend, Nancy, has a delightful standard poodle, Taffy, and Manning captures the energy and spirit of these dogs in her novel. I've seen the Taffinator in action. Such amazing dogs.

While the book is about standard poodles, another facet of the novel is the character of Benny, a fourteen-year-old young man with mild autism. I've had several special needs students with autism, and her characterization rings true. Being a woman with a Ph.D. in education, and possessing much experience in this field, it is what I expected. This is a good book for educators, as well.

This lovely lady sent me a hand-written note, thanking me for the anticipated review and hoping I will enjoy the book! Her kind spirit is reflected in her story.

Nancy's Taffinator
You can tell by the photos of Taffy, Nancy's standard poodle, what their energy and spirit is like. Boundless, and playful.
Sure, Taffy could compete!
Taffy's the best!

Almost Perfect 
A New Novel By Diane Daniels Manning

Author Bio:
  Diane Daniels Manning is the co-founder and director of The New School in the Heights, a therapeutic school in Houston, Texas which helps children dealing with social-emotional challenges find success in school and life. She has a Ph.D. in Education and a post-doctoral Master of Public Health (MPH) from Harvard and is a practicing child psychoanalyst certified by the APA. Formerly, she was the Director of the Reading and Learning Disabilities Clinic at Tufts University, Lecturer and Research Associate in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard, and Chair of the Department of Education at Tulane University. Her writing awards include the Faulkner-Wisdom Novella Prize and the Women in Film and Television Short Script Competition.

When not at The New School, Diane and her writing partners, a Standard Poodle named Misty and a rescue cat named Elvira, convene at the keyboard to share great thoughts and plan the dinner menu.

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