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timoleon vieta by dan rhodes

This is the story of a dog called Timoleon Vieta. The scruffy mongrel “with eyes as pretty as a girl’s” belongs to Carthusians Cockroft, an ageing, gay, and near-suicidal composer who lives alone in the Umbrian countryside. Cockroft has made a mess of his life, and tries to forget about his failed career in music through booze and his liaisons with a string of young men.

Only his dog, however, remains loyal, and patiently listens to his grumbles and complaints. When a young, handsome (and dog-hating) man known only as the Bosnian comes to stay, Cockroft is persuaded to abandon the dog in Rome.

The rest of the novel concerns Timoleon Vieta’s long and hazardous trek home. Along the way, the dog encounters a gallery of colourful characters who all have their own tales to tell, such as that of a Chinese orphan whose mother and Italian stepfather have both suffered horrendous deaths.

The honest emotional qualities of this shaggy dog’s story will definitely win you over.

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