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1 January 2014

Marley and Me
John Grogan
Publication Date
18 May 2005
Non-fiction Animal

'life and love with the world's worst dog'

This is a book review from 2009. I thought I will start my blog off by reworking some old reviews I did in my previous blog. Even though these books might not be the latest books published, I think it is still nice to go back to stuff previously read. While I don't really re-read books (too less time, too many books in my TBR pile), it's still nice to revisit them and maybe convince someone who's only seen the film to try the book. 
The movie is out now, but I was determined to read the book before I go to see the movie - I'm so glad I did. As always, so I find, whilst the movie has its own merits, I prefer to read the book and live the story that way.
This is a true story. John Grogan, a journalist and writer, tells us the story of his experiences with Marley, a yellow labrador. He is a very polished writer and writes with wonderful wit which is just absolutely refreshing to read without being soppy. I often read on the train and found myself literally laughing out loud - a sin on an early morning commuter train.
John is the narrator, and the story is simple enough - and the title sums it up : 'Life and Love with Marley'. I don't think I add a great spoiler when I say the story starts when Marley enters their life and it ends when Marley leaves their life. John and Jenny are a young couple who just start out living together. And like many young couples, they decide to get a dog. They visit a breeder and Marley is 'reject puppy' for a discount, the smallest one of the litter who captures their heart. And changes their life forever. Marley grows up, and so do John and Jenny. The film obviously focuses on the main events and takes out a few of the very funny and memorable scenes with Marley (the obedience school disaster, eating everything in sight - including expensive jewellery, a scene in a cafe where John ties him to a table and Marley runs off including table, the dog beach where he poops in the sea, crashing through doors, scaring the dog sitter off, being scared of thunderstorms.) The family grows, they move to different areas, and Marley is always there for them. Naughty and not always easy to live with, he is just simply Marley, always there and devoted to his family.
SPOILERS. What I found best about reading the book as opposed to just seeing the movie was the stories of difficulties which John and Jenny face in their life and they emotions involved in dealing with those.  They include miscarriage, post natal depression, job angst, violence in the neighbourhood. Grogan than also describes how Marley gets old and his deteriorating health. My own Labrador is now 7 years old now, and I find myself drawing comparisons and in a way, it prepared me for what I may have to deal with my girl in a few years. And while the movie really pushes the tear ducts when Marley does pass away at the end of his long and happy life (understandable from the Director's point!), I found the book is a bit more realistic and while we feel the pain of the Grogans for loosing a family member, it also finished for me on a positive note of looking back on his wonderful life which gave them so much.