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A Dog's Life

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Boy, an uncannily shaggy canine of unknown origins, and now undisputed master of the Mayle household, recounts his event-filled life in Provence in this unique, rollicking memoir.

A pure-bred paranoid labouring under delusions of grandeur, Boy is a character of rich intricacy. His journal - somewhere between Proust and Eeyore - contains apercus by Voltaire or Machiavelli cheek by jowl with hints on dealing with clumsy human feet under the dinner table, amorous interludes alongside run-ins with plumbers, and athletic diversions interspersed with joyous and trying adventures in the French countryside.

Boy's reflections on life and the relationship between man and dog - and his occasional revelation about the human condition - come from a refreshingly new perspective, that is, approximately knee-height, making him an irresistible, if often irascible, companion.

192 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1994

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About the author

Peter Mayle

103 books1,122 followers
Peter Mayle was a British author famous for his series of books detailing life in Provence, France. He spent fifteen years in advertising before leaving the business in 1975 to write educational books, including a series on sex education for children and young people. In 1989, A Year in Provence was published and became an international bestseller. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages, and he was a contributing writer to magazines and newspapers. Indeed, his seventh book, A Year in Provence, chronicles a year in the life of a British expatriate who settled in the village of Ménerbes. His book A Good Year was the basis for the eponymous 2006 film directed by Ridley Scott and starring actor Russell Crowe. Peter Mayle died in Provence, France.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 339 reviews
Profile Image for Jessaka.
854 reviews99 followers
March 2, 2020
I Like This Boo~~Maubee

Good morning Jessaka’s friends. My name is Maubee, and I am Jessaka’s new kitten. I have only been with her for 2 months, long enough to know her, after all I sit on her lap when she is reading, and I chew on her toes. I am just so cute. I also have beautiful long black hair that looks kind of brown at times. I think I have brown mixed in with the black. I can’t see myself to tell. And Jessaka thinks that I only squeak and sometimes cry little meows. She doesn’t know that I can think like every else and I can write as well. Which is the subject of this story.

I heard her making comments about this book. Such as, “This is so stupid, a dog narrating in a book. Dogs can’t talk.”
Then later, she said, “This book is so stupid that I can’t do a review on it.” Next, she put it down when she was almost finished with it, and I wanted to know what had happened to the dog. Maybe when she is in a better mood, she will finish it. It isn’t that she doesn’t like fantasy, after all she read Tolkien. But I heard her also say, “I have never liked animals talking. Hobbits are different. I couldn’t read “Watership Down” because the animals talked. I am not five years old.”

Since it was on audio, I got to listen to it along with her. This dog, whose name I forgot, was once owned by a bad man. We know that he was bad because he kicked the dog, and because he dog couldn’t hunt, he dumped him on the road. The dog then went to town and tried to get butchers and grocery store employees to feed him, but he had no luck until a nice woman saw him and took him home with her. I think he was a nice dog because he didn’t chase cats, but then again, there were no cats in the book to chase. But I digress.

After he was adopted, he had a good life. essaka adopted me, too. Someone dumped me on her property, and she was just going to feed me like she does her other feral cats, all three of them. So, as I was saying, she was going to get me altered or spayed, whichever, and then give me away to the veterinarian so he could find a home for me. I fooled her. I won her heart, because I am so cute and beautiful, I heard her say.

Then stupid her, she named me Maisy, and then the doctor said that I was a boy, so she had to change my name. boy, did that stump her because she liked the name Maisy. I didn’t. But now that I had my manhood taken away, she may as well have named me Maisy. Instead, she thought of Gumbo. Why she liked that name I don’t know. She thought it was cute, but then her wonderful husband said it didn’t sound right. He was right. He came up with Maubee from their favorite movie “The Mighty Quinn,” and it stuck. Maubee was a character in the movie that was Denzel Washington’s friend. He was kind of offbeat, but so am I.I think the movie took place in Jamaica, which appears to be Jessakca’s husband’s favorite island, although he has never been there. But I like my new masculine name, and I think Jessaka does too because I have not heard her call me Maisy again.

Anyway, I hope that she doesn’t see this review because then she will know that I can talk also, and that just may wig her out.
Profile Image for V.R. Barkowski.
Author 7 books28 followers
August 13, 2010
It's been a busy week, and I needed a pick-me-up, so I decided to reread a book that always makes me smile: A Dog’s Life by Peter Mayle. It worked. I’m still laughing. And for that reason alone, it deserves praise, If you love dogs and/or France, this is a must read. My favorite chapter? “Mano a Mano with the Cat in the Garage.” As a dog AND cat owner, the title alone makes me giggle.

What’s it about?
Peter Mayle is best known for his books detailing life in Provence. Consider A Dog’s Life a variation on that theme—a dog’s life in Provence, if you will. The protagonist is Boy, one of a litter of thirteen pups who, after failing to prove himself as a hunting dog, is adopted by the Mayles (“the Management Team”). This is Boy’s tail, uh tale.

Why read it?
Because it is an absolute pleasure. While written from a four-legged perspective, Boy's insights into human nature are unerring. He sees us for what we are, sometimes generous and kind, other times selfish and hypocritical. But Boy remains steadfast and loyal, forgiving us our foibles and focusing on the good. His is an example we can all learn from.

Oh, and Edward Koren’s drawings are marvelous.
Profile Image for Mayleen Cadiz.
9 reviews2 followers
June 27, 2010
If you have a dog or dogs, this book is a must read. Though the author used his own words in expressing his dog's opinions, his take on a canine's view of the human life is simply hilarious.

The dog named Boy is slightly mean, funny and above all smart. His comments on other dogs, cats, his human family, and other human beings can offend the sensitive type but honestly, most of them are true.

If all dogs can talk or write, they would definitely agree with what Boy wrote in his "memoir".
Profile Image for Jim.
1,090 reviews64 followers
February 12, 2021
A light and entertaining read by an author I have not read before. This is the story of a dog--as told by the dog. The canine's name is "Boy" and the author found him after he was abandoned in the woods. Boy has to learn to fit in, which he does, but manages to get into trouble now and then. Part of the charm of this story is that it is set in Provence (Mayle also wrote a book- "A Year in Provence" about how he came to live there). The book is nicely illustrated by Edward Koren.
Profile Image for Phoebe.
385 reviews10 followers
May 8, 2012
Oh I don't know how to shelve this book...Thinking back on how I started reading Peter Mayle, it was all because of mom. When I ran out of things to read I would go through the book that my mom had gotten from the library or her personal collection, as any book-hungry child would do. I even went through some of those how-to-raise-your-child nurture books. I read voraciously and always wanted more. Anyway, back to Peter Mayle. It was different from the books I was reading, and because of that I wanted more, in the sense it focused on the mundane and the ordinary but portrayed the details with wit and humorous self-deprecation. In other words, it wasn't the kind of book that would appear in a children's section. If I ever have kids of my own, I hope they have the same insatiable appetite for books of all kinds and the spirit of true book explorers. After all, a love affair with books is for sure to last for a long, long time.
279 reviews
February 16, 2015
A cute and amusing book! This is a quick read and great pick-me-up when you are feeling low or have just finished a depressing or text heavy book. I would recommend this book to anyone, just don't take it seriously or analyze it, it was meant for fun.
Profile Image for Zeineb Nouira.
87 reviews25 followers
October 12, 2019
Who knew that one could relate to a dog?!
Pearls of wisdom and witty comments on the human existence are provided by an uncanny canine called Boy. One may forget that this book contains the musings of a dog that lived through struggles which are not so different from those of Man.

It is a very unique take on the autobiographical tradition and that of personal dwelling on [human/canine] existence!

A fun and interesting read without a doubt!
Profile Image for Megargee.
642 reviews16 followers
May 31, 2020
Although ostensibly authored by Peter Mayle, whose books on life in Provence I have enjoyed, this brief book was actually written by "Boy," a hirsute canine of indeterminate parentage whom the Mayles took in after he was abandoned, eating out of garbage cans and sleeping rough. Inspired by Proust, Boy offers his reflections on a long and eventful life, his candid evaluations of the human species, his observations of the Mayle household, and his advice to puppies on how best to deal with people's irrational rules and foibles such as urinating into the white porcelain drinking bowls with which they furnish their homes. Illustrated by Edward Koren's drawings, A Dog's Life, is good for an amusing light read, especially if one is dealing with a pandemic or some heavy political tome.
Although not as talented as his owner, Peter Mayle, whose books on Provence I have enjoyed,
Boy is a promising author. Good Boy!
Profile Image for Soledad.
111 reviews13 followers
November 18, 2022
O istorie adorabilă și plină de umor povestită din perspectiva unui câine, care fiind inspirat de Proust, decide să-și scrie memoriile : „Acum, după atâția ani, am căpătat o adevărată slăbiciune pentru Proust. /păi, este exact despre mine 😃/ Tinde să o cam lungească, ceea ce nu prea e pe gustul meu, dar avem câteva caracteristici în comun. Suntem amândoi francezi, binînțeles. Amândoi avem o fire meditativă. Amândoi suntem admiratori înfocați ai biscuiților - pentru el, madlene, pentru mine, modelul crocant, în formă de os, cu calciu adăugat. Așa că m-am gândit că, dacă Proust poate să împărtășească întregii lumi opiniile sale despre viață, iubire, mama lui, tratațiile de la ora ceaiului și despre căutarea fericirii, atunci eu de ce să n-o fac?” Și da, țin să menționez că o face admirabil, adeverindu-se nu doar un povestitor dotat cu inteligență și ironie fină, dar și un bun cunoscător al naturii umane. Cred că deținătorii unui reprezentant al speciei canine vor aprecia în mod special această poveste absolut savuroasă.

📖„Cam asta a fost întâmpinarea pe care am primit-o din partea negustorilor din sat și tot ce pot să vă spun este să nu vă lăsați păcăliți de cărțile poștale în care localnici voioși rânjesc la aparatul de fotografiat. Cei doi pe care i-am întâlnit în ziua aceea i-ar fi indus coșmaruri și lui Genghis-Han. (Se zice că obișnuia să mănânce câini, când nu mai aveau provizii. Presupun că am făcut ceva progrese de atunci.)” 😆

📖„- Vezi? zise Madame. Îi place. O să-i spunem Băiețelu'.
Dacă este să fiu absolut cinstit, pentru mine era totuna. Aș fi răspuns la Heathcliff sau Cezar Augustus, sau Mitterand, dacă asta înseama mâncare bună, făcută în casă, un tratament civilizat și un masaj pe burtică, dar, cum ei păreau încântați de alegere, am rămas Băiețelu' de atunci.”

📖„Să greșești e omenește. Să ierți e canin.”

(Viață de caine / Peter Mayle; trad. de Alexandra Popescu - Editura RAO, 2014)
Profile Image for Mitch.
677 reviews17 followers
July 7, 2018
Generally speaking, I am not a fan of fiction written from a beloved pet's point of view....due mainly to the propensity of said pets to solve crimes that baffle their owners. Really, how often does Bowser need to reliably dig up an incriminating arm bone before someone yells, "Drop it! It's beyond the bounds of believability!"

This light entertainment, though, I recommend due to the humor involved. The main character routinely and unconsciously points out his varied character flaws, and Peter Mayle has a good time phrasing his statements beautifully. Along the way are a few social and political commentaries to sweeten the mix.

It is probably a prerequisite to love dogs in order to enjoy this book, but I stand with the main character in not understanding how anyone could do otherwise.

Profile Image for Tina Culbertson.
538 reviews19 followers
June 28, 2017
I have been a fan of Peter Mayle for a while. A Dog’s Life is different from his usual writing style but I thoroughly enjoyed it. This story is told from the dog’s point of view. It seems like a very accurate accounting of what I think dog’s reactions may be. But then I tend to give my dogs more credit regarding their thought processes and adding human emotion.

“Boy” was a pup with an unhappy childhood. He was chained outside with barely any shelter and had a cruel owner. When he was taken hunting he proved to inefficient at that task as he was afraid of gunfire. I was becoming truly sad when I read how he was abandoned. The cruel owner took him for a car ride, pulled the dog from the car and hurled a piece of meat into the weeds. The dog took off for the meat and the owner drove off, abandoning the poor dog to fend for himself.

The dog roamed the countryside, eating scraps when he could find anything and eventually went into a city to beg for food and company. Each time he followed someone it seemed they may take him in but he was always shooed away in the end. Finally, on one of his trips roaming the roadside, a kind lady stopped the car and offered him a ride. This is the beginning of Boy’s good fortune.

The kind lady and her husband are none other than Peter Mayle and his wife. They dubbed the dog Boy and took him in. What a wonderful life Boy had living in the Provence countryside, wandering from the kitchen to the local woods and then writing his memoirs. Boy provides us with his observations of his new owners (he calls them management), thoughts on hygiene habits of various nationalities who visit the French cottage, cats, meals and wine.

The drawings in the book were done by Edward Koren and are perfect for all the stories. I liked this book very much and it’s a very quick read. It’s humorous, it’s set in Provence France and offers a good storyline – what’s not to like.

5 Bones for this classic canine story. Let’s share a white Bordeaux in honor of Boy’s fine accommodations in the Provence countryside. It’s always nice to read a happy ending.
Profile Image for Nd.
475 reviews3 followers
November 3, 2017
Peter Mayle's tongue-in-cheek humor through the eyes of the foundling dog, Boy, is hilarious throughout. Boy's sophisticated thinking and social commentary began with his description of being born as one of too many for his mother to nurse in a litter of pups. His adventures then went through being wanted and not wanted, plenty and hunger, a very funny attempt at making a hunting dog of him, in the woods alone, finding scraps in the town, and finally the irony he witnessed regularly while living in the French countryside. He was taken in by a lovely woman and and what Boy described as a rather dim-witted writer he calls (lower case) "the other half." Through Boy's parody, wit, and humor the reader once again witnesses Peter Mayle's compelling life in the French countryside.
1,913 reviews11 followers
February 13, 2013
Boy is the key character in this humorous little book written by Peter Mayle. This dog is based on a dog Mayle once adopted whose "uncertain origins and dubious hunting skills" made him a dog only the author and his wife could love. Boy tells his own story from amorous approaches to a female far too little to really love to cats which he abhors and chases out of his territory to chickens which are a form of "sport and nourishment."

It's a light read that can be best enjoyed by dog lovers/owners. Boy encounters all manner of experiences to neighbors with whom he runs afoul for many reasons, to a little boy whose teddy bear he chewed to pieces causing indigestion, to prancing about during his owners' dinner parties. I choose light reads like this as I work on histories, nonfiction and classics. Nice, short and fun. And, as I reflect on this witty read, let me share a quote from the book: "To err is human. To forgive is canine."
Profile Image for Erma Odrach.
Author 7 books73 followers
October 20, 2011
This is a really entertaining and funny memoir written from the point of view of a canine of "mysterious lineage" named Boy. It recounts Boy's everyday life from shopping at a butcher shop, to getting a bath, to even quoting Voltaire.

Here's a small passage, "A brace of a pig's trotters had caught my eye, and I was deliberating between them and a handsome cut of veal when ...Enter the butcher, eyes popping with fury..."

(This actually reminds me of when my dog somehow stole a line of sausages and was chased down the street by the butcher.)

You don't have to be a dog lover to enjoy this one.
Profile Image for Bob.
95 reviews2 followers
January 29, 2020
Ten stars!!! And now one of my favorite books of all time! This is brilliant!! I've never laughed so hard with a book -- and laughed out loud, too. It's irresistibly funny and absolutely marvelous. "Garcon" (we'll call him "Garcon" as that's more fitting)... Garcon's observations on the world, life, the human condition and dog-human relationships are priceless. It's an easy, quick read and one you don't want to miss! Did I say I it's easily a ten stars read? :D Worth reading again and again, too! Just loved it!
Profile Image for Bev.
457 reviews18 followers
August 21, 2015
This is the book Marley could have written if he were as educated as "Boy." Boy (Mayle's real life dog) tells it all from his abusive puppyhood to his rescue by "madame," his adapting to the house, learning the rules, and his observations on those weird humans. (The chapters on "The Joy of Balls" and "By Their Smell Shall You Know Them" are particularly funny.) With illustrations by Edward Koren, this book is just delightful.
8 reviews
May 27, 2009
Who wouldn't want to read about a dog living a dog's life in Provence, France? If you are familiar with "A Year in Provence" -I listened to it through books on tape-you will, (no doubt) have a fond remberance of the writer's ability to transport you into the humorously charming world of France and all its foibles.
This book is written through the dog's voice and it works out perfect.
Profile Image for Diane.
82 reviews
August 4, 2017
I seriously laughed until I cried reading this book. I received this, along with several other books, from a relative, and just picked it up and thought it looked like a fast, easy, enjoyable read, but was completely enthralled and my favorite part was the "bath" section! Anyone who owns a dog, MUST read this and even if you don't have one, you will still enjoy!
Profile Image for Kathy.
318 reviews3 followers
February 19, 2010
This is a funny little book on how dogs see humans of course, but also is the story of a French dog, so also pokes fun at the Franco stereotypes in a gentle way. Delightful cartoons illustrate throughout. A quick and sweet little book for observers of dogs.
Profile Image for Roxi Kirstein.
3 reviews
December 11, 2010
I had the pleasure of my gndmother reading this book to me when i was just eight years old whilst on a visit to see her in Cape Town. The tone and expression which she used only made it all the more entertaining and sarcastic. I will NEVER forget this book, i swear it.
Profile Image for Dawn Emsen-Hough.
288 reviews6 followers
February 24, 2020
What a delightful, fun book. Put your feet up over the weekend and enjoy! Can easily be read in a sitting or two. If a dog lover, you will recognise all the antics and have a laugh at the wisdom of not only our canine friends, but our human friends as well (self included). A wonderful interlude that will make you smile, warmly and laugh out loud.
Profile Image for Nina.
1,451 reviews9 followers
January 28, 2020
Short book, ostensibly written by the dog. He refers to his owners as "the management." Waxes philosophical with statements such as "To err is human, to forgive is canine." Believes that while some people think that couples have dogs to make up for not having children, he believes couples have children to make up for not having dogs. He attempts to provide advice to young pups in matters such as how to be apologetic after destroying something belonging to the management. Quite cute.
Profile Image for Marlet.
19 reviews
February 9, 2018
“Remember that we live in an imperfect world. People make mistakes.... Life is short. My advice is to make the best of it, and to make allowances. To err is human. To forgive, canine.”
Profile Image for Chelfea.
40 reviews6 followers
February 4, 2018
"To err is human. To forgive, canine."

I'm a sucker for books that anthropomorphize pets. What can I say. This is a sweet book that pretty well encapsulates what I think my dog is thinking most of the time. It's a quick, easy, heart-warming read you can knock out in an afternoon with a good blanket and a couple mugs of tea.
Profile Image for CindySR.
475 reviews
July 16, 2020
This one is going on my favorites shelf and I'm heading to the library today (before it goes on lock down again) to get as many Peter Mayle books as I can!

I loved the humor, chuckles and laughs on every page. The cartoon illustrations are a scream. If you like audio books I bet this one is even better to listen to!
Profile Image for Jess Atkinson.
25 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2018
A fun and thoughtful look at human nature and life in Provence though the eyes of Mayle's plucky Garçon.
Profile Image for Kristin.
44 reviews6 followers
July 17, 2008
Thank you Courtney for giving me this book. I just got into it today and am half-way through. For anyone who has ever owned or loved a dog, this is a great read! It's from a dog's perspective with segments such as the following:

From the chapter, "The Art of Communication" - too cute and true...

"Anyway, I may not talk, but I like to think that I am one of the great communicators. I have a manly and distinctive bark, an eloquent sniff, a squeal of horror that serves to discourage any attempts at grooming. I have, so I'm told, a most expressive snore. And my growl is a model of menace, a profundo rumble that strikes terror into the hearts of small birds and hesitant salesman. Unfortunately, it gives me a sore throat, so I use it sparingly."

You get the gist....read on=)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 339 reviews

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