Back of the book: Veterinarian Cami Anderson has hit a rough patch. Stymied by her recent divorce, she wonders if there are secret ingredients to a happy, long-lasting marriage or if the entire institution is outdated and obsolete. Couples all around her are approaching important milestones. Her parents are preparing to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. Her brother and his partner find their marriage dreams legally blocked. Her former sister-in-law—still her best friend—is newly engaged. The youthfully exuberant romance of her teenage daughter is developing complications. And three separate men—including her ex-husband—are becoming entangled in Cami’s messy post-marital love life.
But as she struggles to come to terms with her own doubts amid this chaotic circus of relationships, Cami finds strange comfort in an unexpected confidant: an angry, unpredictable horse in her care. With the help of her equine soul mate, she begins to make sense of marriage’s great mysteries—and its disconnects.
The Blessings of the Animals is a novel about relationships – mostly marriage but also parental, sibling, and friends. And then there’s the love of and responsibility to animals. Katrina Kittle shows the beauty of being faithful to the people (and animals) in one’s life and the fallout when that doesn’t happen. She also shows that being faithful to someone and making him/her content are not the same thing. In the end, we are responsible for our own feelings of contentment.
The animals in the book are wonderful. They made me laugh out loud and also had me tearing up. I don’t want to give away any of the joy in learning about them so I’ll just say I felt as emotional about them as I did the human characters. Cami is a veterinarian and there is nothing she won’t do for the animals. What the animals give to her is what she would hope to receive from the people in her life. It would have been so easy for her to just shut down when her life changes abruptly but Kittle gives us a woman who rises to meet her responsibilities to her daughter, her friends, and her job. It’s hard but she gives it her best and in doing that she starts her life moving in a new direction.
I didn’t plan to read this book as quickly as I did but I was hooked from the first page. I enjoyed all the characters and adored the animals. The Blessings of the Animals will be on my 2010 Favorite Books list. It would be a great selection for a book club.
Review copy from Harper Perennial