“A” is for “Animals”: The Alphabet Posts Begin, plus ARC Giveaway

These two beauties–painted by Gustave Courbet–belonged to the Comte de Choiseul

What a difference almost two weeks makes! Since my last post, we’ve begun a new month, gained an hour each day, and reelected an incumbent president. So it seems like a fitting time to start something new on this blog, as well as continuing the ARC giveaway for Waltz with a Stranger.

Welcome to the Alphabet Posts, as I blog my way through topics–literary and otherwise–from A to Z. This week, it’s “A” for “Animals” . . . especially animals in romance fiction.

Those of us who have pets love them dearly, so naturally we warm to fictional characters who feel the same way about their own. And animals can add a touch of humor, charm, and warmth to a story, as well as illuminate the human characters whose lives they share. The sternest, dourest, most forbidding hero surely can’t be all bad if he has his devoted dog always at his heels, and the most spoiled, capricious beauty can show a softer, more nurturing side towards a cherished cat or pet bird.

As a reader, I’ve been charmed by various fictional pets. The cat Bastet who stalks regally through the Amelia Peabody Emerson mysteries, half-companion, half-caretaker to the Emersons’ adventure-prone son, Ramses. The Merrivilles’ big, sloppy dog, Lufra, in Georgette Heyer’s Frederica. Dodger, the kleptomaniac ferret who enlivens Lisa Kleypas’ Hathaway series. Grim, the talking Tower raven, in Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey mysteries. The adorable Labrador trio of Bogart, Newman, and Peck in Nora Roberts’ The Search.

But my possible favorite might be Garrick, the shaggy mongrel who, along with his gamine mistress Demelza Carne, joins the slightly ramshackle household of impoverished Cornish mine owner Ross Poldark. Girl and dog change Poldark’s life forever, Demelza ultimately winning his stormy heart, and Garrick enlivening his existence simply by being Garrick.

At one point, a cash-strapped Ross wonders aloud what their impossible dog might be worth on the open market: “One overgrown mongrel. Carnivorous. Fights bulls and guards babies. Trained to sit on seedlings and scratch up flowers. Good crockery breaker. Suffers sometimes from bad breath. Results guaranteed.”

Not that Garrick has anything to worry about. He remains a fixture of the Poldark saga throughout the first seven books–before succumbing to old age “off-camera” before book eight.

So, dear readers, who are your favorite fictional pets? And did any of them inspire you to acquire a pet of your own?

The winner of this week’s ARC giveaway will be chosen from the commenters below.

2 thoughts on ““A” is for “Animals”: The Alphabet Posts Begin, plus ARC Giveaway

  1. Pamela Sherwood

    Dodger is definitely a scene stealer! We’re currently without pets, but our neighbor’s cat likes to hang out in our backyard. The fun without the responsibility!

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