Review published on September 23, 2017.
When I first heard about Dan Knew I thought it sounded like a lovely premise for a novel. It tells the story of Dan, a plucky puppy born to a street dog in Ukraine. He is rescued by an expat family who take him in along with various other dogs and cats along the way.
I thought it got off to a relatively slow start. Dan was a gorgeous and loyal dog to his ‘mum’ but the life of a dog isn’t the most exciting thing to read about. But, and there’s a big but here, I think the fact that I knew it was semi-autobiographical made all the difference. I wasn’t reading about a character here but a real dog, one who had meant the world to his owner and he really came to life for me as I read about him. At the beginning I was wondering how the author could sustain the story for 300+ pages but it really did work and as I got more involved in the story I started to love it.
From Dan’s point of view, we go through many trials and tribulations in his human mum’s life. I won’t go into it here but she really goes through the mill. And Dan and his family (including their other wonderful dogs, Lada, Ceilidh and Jake) move around a lot and Dan certainly becomes a seasoned traveller across Europe. I thought his feelings were put across really well – imagine how an animal feels being left without his mum and put on an aeroplane, ferry or train: bewildered, lost and unsure.
I think there’s an inevitability about most animal stories and the ending of this one left me sobbing. It’s altogether a very moving and emotional story and I thought Dan was just lovely. I’m so pleased that I read about him.
Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes 4/3
Dan Knew by F.J. Curlew
Fiona Curnow 9780995531420 pbk Jun 2017