Perhaps you’re not a member of the Azov House of Culture Elderly Club?
Perhaps you missed the talk on the Cabbage Root Fly last week?
Galina Petrovna hasn’t missed one since she joined the Club, when she officially became old. But she would much rather be at home with her three-legged dog Boroda. Boroda isn’t ‘hers’ exactly, they belong to each other really, and that’s why she doesn’t wear a collar.
And that’s how Mitya The Exterminator got her.
And that’s why Vasily Semyonovich was arrested.
And Galina had to call on Zoya who had to call on Grigory Mikhailovich.
And go to Moscow.
Living in 1990s Russia, Galina Petrovna has resigned herself to living out the former years of her life tending to her vegetables and attending meetings at the Azov House of Culture Elderly Club to discuss Cabbage Root Fly and take part in their Lotto draw. She’s quite happy with just the company of her three-legged dog Boroda and is ambling along in life just fine.
However; Galina’s life is turned upside down after an encounter with Mitya The Exterminator who captures Boroda as she’s not wearing a collar.
Seeking the help of Vasily Semyonovich (who proudly runs the Azov House of Culture Elderly Club) the pair set about rescuing poor Boroda from evil Mitya’s dog-hating clutches. However, things go from bad to worse when corrupt cop, Officer Kulakov, gets involved in the quickly escalating situation and before Galina knows what’s happening it’s not just Boroda who needs rescuing, but Vasily Semyonovich too is arrested for trying to bride a Police Officer and sent to the SIZO. Oh, and Boroda bites Kulakov on the ankle, which certainly does her no favours…
Galina calls upon the help of her good friend Zoya, who then calls upon Grigory Mikhailovich, certain that he will be able to help. The next thing you know Galina and Zoya are Moscow-bound in an attempt to sort the out the very messy situation that this group of septuagenarians have found themselves in…
Galina Petrova’s Three Legged Dog Story is completely different to the type of novel I usually go for, however I was drawn to it as soon as I read the synopsis. It sounded like an absolute riot of a novel, involves dogs and is described as being a story ‘filled with pickle’. What more could you want from a book!?
There was such a fantastic blend of characters in this story. Galina herself is loveable and one heck of a fearless lady. You’ll be behind her all the way in her quest to free Boroda and also the delightful Vasily Semyonovich.
Then there’s Zoya. I love this woman. She gives the best advice; “Don’t let your friend carry your coat & always keep some spare knickers in your pocket!” and also proclaims that “Ironing is never the answer. Or golf.” She made me unattractively snort with laugher many, many times and has got a personality the size of Australia.
As far as Mitya the Exterminator was concerned I started off this story absolutely loathing him. ARGH, he was evil. But, as much as I don’t want to say it, my opinion of the dog-hating, Depeche Mode-loving psychopath changed the more I got to know him. I ended up quite liking him! I also really liked Katya; she was the one who made him see the error of his ways and I loved the two of them when they were together.
This novel kept me entertained, outraged, tearful and laughing-my-socks-off from page one and it didn’t let up for the whole 335 pages.
It’s such a cracking rollercoaster of a story. You honestly think there’s no way Galina Petrovna and Zoya are really going to make it to Moscow, meet with Grigory Mikhailovich and get the situation resolved before anything happens to Boroda. Then there’s poor old Vasily in the SIZO; how will he cope? The mission seems insurmountable at times, but you never stop hoping that the pair can pull this off; and they never quite stop surprising you throughout the whole of their journey.
I found the backdrop of 90’s Russia to be a fascinating setting for a story and whilst I struggled a little with the names at points, I soon learnt to love how Grigory Mikhailovich was always, ALWAYS referred to as Grigory Mikhailovich. There’s even a handy Glossary at the back. (I often wondered why Mitya’s neighbour was referred to as Andrei the Svoloch. Now I know…)
Andrea Bennett manages to achieve a story full to the brim with humour, but once you look closely, you realise that this story is full of love, emotion, friendship and hope (and importantly, pickle!) which is something I wasn’t necessarily expecting from the offset.
Galina Petrovna’s Three Legged Dog Story was such a joy to read. It was surprising, laugh-out-loud-hilarious (the scene where Galina, Zoya and Gregory go clubbing will go down as one of my favourite scenes from a novel EVER) touching, emotional and it will leave you with the biggest, soppiest smile on your face.
Whilst this novel is probably a world away from the usual books I read I absolutely loved every minute of this page-turner of an adventure. It just goes to show how it’s always worth trying something that little bit different and it’s novels like this that make me so grateful to be a part of the Lovereading panel and to be given opportunities to try books outside my comfort zone. I think that Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged Dog Story is sure to go down as a classic and one of the must-read books of 2015.
A huge thank you to Lovereading.co.uk for giving me the opportunity to review this title, and to publishers The Borough Press. ♥
Andrea Bennett graduated from the University of Sheffield in History & Russian and then spent a good part of the “Yeltsin years” living and working in Russia. On her return to the UK she joined the Civil Service – first at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, then the Department for International Development. A stint in local government followed, and she now works in the charity sector. This is her first novel. She lives in Ramsgate, Kent, with her family and dog.
♥Andrea Bennett♥ Goodreads