Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Paw Tracks

Sometimes a book comes along that captivates you in a very special way.  Such a book is Paw Tracks, A Childhood Memoir by Denis O'Connor. O'Connor, now retired, was a psychologist and teacher who was published in academic journals. How he got past his childhood and has had such a successful life is the miracle of this story.

Denis was raised in Northumberland where woods and riverbanks became his salvation, his escape from a brutal, unloving father. Verbal abuse or physical abuse would each be bad enough but the young Denis suffered them both with no real defense by his mother. He found loving people in his grandmother and a couple who owned a nearby farm.

What really saved him were the animals in his life. He found a way to communicate and work with his neighbor's aggressive dog, he gentled an untamed horse who had a similar background of abuse, a white cat that he had to say was his mother's in order to keep it. And worst of all, his beloved dog was put down by his father. Why?  Because Denis loved the dog and the dog loved him.

O'Connor describes his childhood and surroundings in clear and vivid detail, including the enchantment of nature and how it came to mean so much to him. While many would not survive such a childhood, O'Connor was determined to better his life and get away from his father, the father who could never be proud of him.  He knew that freedom would come through education and so he worked exceptionally hard to assure that he would go to university.

Paw Tracks is not a very lengthy book, only 214 pages that seem to fly as one moves along through Denis O'Connor's childhood and it leaves the reader wanting more.

Published by Constable & Robinson in London, the book is available on Amazon:


rescuegal said...

Sounds like an inspirational book worth the read. Nice review by Ms. Arden.

June said...

I have two of Denis O'Connor's books - 'Paw Tracks in the Moonlight' and am just now finishing 'Paw Tracks at Owl Cottage.' Both of these are absolutely wonderful. So beautifully expressed and written with such natural, gentle eloquence while writing and reminiscing about his love for nature and for all his beloved cats.

I've not yet gotten 'Paw Tracks: A Childhood Memoir,' but am very much looking forward to reading this, too.

Both of the books had me smiling, giggling and then literally weeping aloud, all throughout the two books. Denis' love for his cats, his delight in their antics and escapades and adventures, and his profound grief when tragedy occurred all resonated so deeply with me. I have lived with and loved animals all my life; most deeply with cats. I laughed and smiled when Denis recalled all those silly things Toby Jug, Carlos, Pablo and Luis got up to, and I cried when Denis wrote about losing his beloved friends over the years.

How very true the last few words of this review are - you, as the reader, definitely are left wanting to read more. I wonder if Denis has a blog, in addition to these beautiful books. If he does, I will be subscribing to it, most definitely.

Thank you, Denis O'Connor, for gifting the world with these books, and I hope you will be writing more for years to come.