A short but densely packed Neverwhere story about everyone’s favourite marquis. Needless to say, How the Marquis Got His Coat Back contains a fairly mA short but densely packed Neverwhere story about everyone’s favourite marquis. Needless to say, How the Marquis Got His Coat Back contains a fairly major spoiler for Neverwhere – you have been warned.
Once Carabas makes his way out of the Thames he has one priority and one priority only: to retrieve the magnificent, eminent, anti-hero-esque coat that makes him the man we all know and love. Thus ensues a quick-witted, adventurous and characteristically peculiar mini adventure with one particularly satisfying cameo.
At only 60 or so pages, How the Marquis Got His Coat Back is a nice revisiting of Gaiman’s Neverwhere and the whimsical world of London Below, offering up some interesting insights into the Marquis’s past. I reckon it’s best served as an accompaniment to the novel rather than a standalone work. Saying that, if you’re a Gaiman fan that’s had some difficulty bringing others into the fold (people can be so stubborn), then this little novella may be a good gateway to attempt.
It’s also the perfect length to devour in a single teatime – whether or not you partake of The Mushroom – and so has the wonderfully endearing quality of making you feel productive while not being at all a chore to get through.
Highly recommended for those who have read Neverwhere, and for those who intend never to.
I picked up Red Dog after reading the opening few pages of Louis de Bernières’ primo novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which a friend had brought intI picked up Red Dog after reading the opening few pages of Louis de Bernières’ primo novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which a friend had brought into work. Feeling I’d earned some merit in resisting the urge to buy another book, I instead picked up a de Bernières book already in my possession – Red Dog. (Admittedly I do have two copies of Red Dog since a) my willpower is at best flimsy and b) I’m a fool for a pretty cover.) It soon became apparent that the two novels are very, very different.
Red Dog is contained by virtue of being based on a true story, which limits de Bernières’ poetic license. The book follows the adventures of Western Australia’s dog of legend: Tally Ho, the Pilbara Wanderer – ‘Red Dog’.
A pioneering and undomesticated (indeed, undomesticatable) red cloud kelpie, Red Dog spends his years travelling around Western Australia, befriending countless humans (and one particularly stoic cat) and generally acting his own master. Buses reserve a special seat for him; people regularly stop to give him a lift in their cars, or let him stay however long he pleases in their homes. There are, of course, those who aren’t quite so keen on Red Dog – but his friends far outnumber his foes.
These are simple but often heartwarming tales about a dog that befriended and united a far-flung community of working people. It’s notable that most of Red Dog’s friends are part of Pilbara’s mining community, sharing a deep camaraderie and not much wealth. And you can see why people loved him. Red Dog represented the defiant, independent, self-sufficient and regularly obstinate enterprising mortal spirit that cannot be tied down, even if one works nine-to-five at a mediocre, laborious job, even if one is a homeless city-dwelling mongrel. For the folk that met him, the Pilbara Wanderer was freedom and independence made manifest.
The writing is clean and enjoyable, the chapters short, the characters easy. The whole book is slim enough to enjoy in one seating. The edition I read (Secker & Warburg 2001, ISBN 10: 0436256177) also contains beautiful print illustrations by Alan Baker and wonderfully neat typography, both of which added a distinct pleasure to it.
This is more a book for dog lovers than those with lofty literary aspirations. It’s a pleasant read for an easy, feel-good evening, but not one you’re likely to revisit. Get a copy with gorgeous illustrations and devour in one sitting.