Book Review: Only the Animals

Only the Animals is a selection of 10 short stories, each told from the point of view of the soul of a dead animal. Each story appears in chronological order, beginning with a camel who died in central Australia in 1892, and ending with a parrot in Lebanon in 2006.

Many of the stories focus on animals caught up in human conflicts, like a cat accidentally left in the trenches of WW1 France by an author visiting her soldier husband, a mussel (yes, the shellfish) clinging to the hull of an American battleship in 1941 or a dolphin used by the navy to identify sea mines in the middle east in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Although I admit many of the literary references went over my head (having had neither the time or the inclination to read many of the heavyweights mentioned, including Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath) the stories were very moving, with both humorous and tragic moments. I never thought I’d cry over the death of a fictional mussel (again, the shellfish!)

Although possibly not to everyone’s taste, I certainly enjoyed Only the Animals, and would recommend it to people who are looking to read something a little different.

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