Good Dogs Don’t Make It to the South Pole

HarperVia. Aug. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780062981653. $26.99. F
DEBUT Norwegian journalist and TV host Thyvold has penned a winner with his first fiction effort, a touching, sometimes funny story whose narrator, a dog named Tassen, relates his life with the widowed Mrs. Thorkildsen. After her husband dies, Mrs. Thorkildsen contentedly spends her days in her roomy mansion watching Dr. Pill, imbibing “dragon water,” and reading to Tassen. On trips to the library (followed by a patty melt and a beer at the Tavern), Mrs. Thorkildsen takes out stacks of books for their enjoyment. When he asks for stories with dogs, Mrs. Thorkildsen tells him about Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, his pack of huskies, and his famous 1911 expedition to the South Pole. As they share heart-pounding stories from Amundsen’s biography, they become loyal companions, finding common bond against Mrs. Thorkildsen’s greedy son and his wife and little boy, who want to move Mrs. Thorkildsen to a nursing home and take over her spacious home. She stands firm until she falls ill, and Tassen’s secure world begins to fall apart.
VERDICT Tassen is a believable, matter-of-fact narrator, bringing us into his world with Mrs. Thorkildsen, her dragon water, her love of books, and Roald Amundsen’s all-important dogs. Thyvold’s moving, inspirational tale is a real treat. [See Prepub Alert, 2/12/20.]

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