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A Three Dog Life [Kindle Edition]

Abigail Thomas
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (343 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When Abigail Thomas's husband, Rich, was hit by a car, his brain shattered. Subject to rages, terrors, and hallucinations, he must live the rest of his life in an institution. He has no memory of what he did the hour, the day, the year before. This tragedy is the ground on which Abigail had to build a new life. How she built that life is a story of great courage and great change, of moving to a small country town, of a new family composed of three dogs, knitting, and friendship, of facing down guilt and discovering gratitude. It is also about her relationship with Rich, a man who lives in the eternal present, and the eerie poetry of his often uncanny perceptions. This wise, plainspoken, beautiful book enacts the truth Abigail discovered in the five years since the accident: You might not find meaning in disaster, but you might, with effort, make something useful of it.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stephen King's front-cover endorsement of Thomas's memoir as the best he's ever read—and a "punch to the heart"—will surely pique interest in this wrenching, elegiac portrait of her third husband, Rich, who flounders in a miasmic present after a hit-and-run in their Manhattan neighborhood shatters his skull, destroys his short-term memory and consigns him to permanent brain trauma. A deft balance of fevered pathos and dark humor link this memoir, in spirit and theme, to Safekeeping, Thomas's collected vignettes that memorialize her second husband. But Thomas also finds wellsprings of inspiration in her tragicomic interactions with Rich and in the self-reliance she's forced to develop, aided by her faithful dogs (the book's title adapts an aboriginal phrase, derived from the tradition of cuddling with dogs on frigid nights). Rich—himself reminiscent of a Stephen King eccentric—utters eerily prescient, absurdly poetic non sequiturs, probing the essence of time and love with ingenuous intuition, though his acute paranoia and confusion make these exchanges truly heartbreaking. Thomas's quick-cutting chronology and confessional narration subtly re-enacts the soupiness of her husband's mind, even as she quietly thanks him for the wisdom of living in the present. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In these exquisitely written essays Thomas reflects on how her marriage had to be reinvented after the night her husband, Richard, took their dog, Harry, out for a walk, and Harry came home alone. Richard had been hit by a car and was lying bleeding in the street. The traumatic head injury he suffered didn't kill him, as attending police had predicted it would, but it rendered him susceptible to large-scale memory loss, hallucinations, and such wild rages that Thomas was forced to commit him to an institution. Lesser events have destroyed relationships, so it would not be surprising to learn that Thomas abandoned Richard. She didn't. Instead, she sold their New York apartment, moved upstate to be near him, and acquired two more dogs to keep her company. What's more, she can't imagine life without her husband, saying, "It would be like falling through space with a parachute but no planet to land on." Thomas has elevated what could be, at best, an overemotional sermon or, at worst, a grim romp in self-pity to a high plain of true inspiration. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 326 KB
  • Print Length: 197 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 1 edition (September 5, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000YN5O2W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,441 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
157 of 166 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rave Review for A Three Dog Life September 19, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
*****

This book is sweet, poignant, and beautiful. It is also gut-wrenchingly honest and realistic about the author's attempts to cope with her life after her husband has a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). He gets hit by a car while walking their dog and their lives are never the same. This memoir is about the author's life and marriage after the accident and for the next five years, until the present day. I loved reading it. I haven't really ever read a book like it.

The author builds herself a life, accompanied by what ends up being three dogs altogether. She still takes joy in her marriage, such as it is. I wish I could put into words how beautiful this book is, but I can't. It is a lovely book with mature topics (grieving, survivor guilt, etc.) for adults or especially mature teens. Highest recommendations.

*****
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief, lovely read September 28, 2006
Format:Hardcover
This memoir managed to be both incredibly sad and yet positive and life-affirming at the same time. Abigail Thomas describes the journey she must take in the years after her husband's accident and how she manages to progress from inner turmoil (and at times, the inability to function at all), to a place where she is at peace with her life. Though her husband must remain at a hospital for brain-injured patients, she is able to bring him home for visits and spends time with him at the center. The comments and thoughts from his head are so fascinating...I found myself eagerly waiting to see what he would say the next time. Just wondering about the brain and all that we don't know about it is truly amazing to me. Sometimes he makes pronouncements that appear so profound, and other times he seems in total confusion, and while it's incredibly heartbreaking, it's also mesmerizing to read their conversations together.

As for Thomas' relationship with her three dogs, she describes it beautifully. I would think any dog owner, as I am, can relate to the description of bed-crowding and jostling for the most attention, but mainly to the bond that forms between human and animal.
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91 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's 2am and I'm reading "A Three Dog Life" again..... September 19, 2006
Format:Hardcover
......enjoying it so much that when I finished, I felt that my best old friend had left me. Afraid to let go, I had to start reading it again, so we could re-unite. I found new gems with every re-read, and appreciated the writing, warmth and feeling even more than the first time in a way that love/like is not supposed to work.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A voice to be heard September 27, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I discovered A Three Dog Life through an article in the New York Times this summer. An excerpt from Abigail Thomas's book appeared in the column, Modern Love. She titled it: "My Husband Survived, the Man I Married Didn't." That is the crux of her book. And with this title, she got me. I, too, have a husband who survived a traumatic brain injury (stroke), and the man I married did not fully survive either.

Thomas's writing is poetic, courageous, and raw. Her story is the pain and joy of the human condition distilled in a small volume. Thomas weaves a new cloth of love from what was and what is now, looking for the meaning of life in the simple and the mundane, and appreciating both with keen insight. Abigail Thomas, the woman, discovers hard and wonderful truths about herself, and is wise enough to learn from her husband the infinite value of just one moment of life, lived in the present. As a writer, she shares generously with us the wisdom she has aquired, but did not ask for.

Although this book looks at tragedy head-on, it is filled with beauty and humor. I laughed out loud, as well as cried while reading it. And when I finished it, I immediately started it over again.

A Three Dog Life is a gift of a read, but to one who loves someone with a traumatic brain injury, it is a measure of sanity in a life forever changed. She "gets it" and writes honestly and poignantly about this journey, a rare combination.
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198 of 227 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Animal Lovers Beware March 26, 2013
Format:Paperback
I was well on the way to considering A Three Dog Life a favorite, getting ready to recommend it to friends. The writing was lyrical and touching. My interest began to wane when it became clear the story was mostly about the author's random train of thought than her experience with her husband and dogs. I got irritated with her irresponsible attitude toward her unspayed female dog in heat. But I kept reading. I was absolutely stunned when she casually threw in a story of a kitten being killed in an unspeakably cruel, monstrous manner resulting in a death of agony and terror. She expressed no emotion. It seemed to have no significance to the author. I reread this passage and found no necessity for its inclusion, as her casual mention of it seemed to have no bearing on the subject. It was followed closely by another offhand description of horrific animal suffering. I was so stunned I threw the book into the garbage, something I have never, ever done in my life. No wonder Stephen King likes this book. Now, before you get on my case about death and suffering being part of life, I do realize that these things occur. I have worked in the veterinary industry for 25 years, my husband hunts and I am familiar with raising animals for food. It was just the completely lighthearted way she related the incidences, and the way they had no bearing on the subject,just random information leading nowhere except shock for the reader. The first part of the book is engrossing and beautifully written, but it deteriorates into boring stream of conciousness. A description of this type of cruelty delivered with such nonchalance will stay with me a very long time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars victoria
Loved this book. Brilliant writing and very touching. Reading it somehow helped me rearrange my life around difficulties and inconvenience. Life is what it is, right?
Published 2 days ago by carolaird
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyed this thoroughly
Great read. A great example of dealing with a tragedy and looking for the silver lining. She never gives up
Published 29 days ago by Golden One
4.0 out of 5 stars Very sweet, realistic.
This is the second time I read this book, and I enjoyed it more this time. I understand the title, but it's still so misleading. But I found it not sad, but aware and mindful. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Books on the side
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
This book just did not capture my attention.
Published 1 month ago by Lifeisshortsoami
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it
Very nicely written. Gained insight into what life with a loved one with traumatic brain injury is like.
Published 1 month ago by K. Gaspar
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story of True Love!
This is a great book about a strong woman who sticks like glue to her husband after a traumatic accident. It's a great love story.
Published 1 month ago by Patricia Langford
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Thought it was going to be a dog story.....not so much.
Published 1 month ago by Kathi Plackmeyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Outstanding in the way in older woman feels and the compassion that is shared in a true marriage.
Published 1 month ago by sweetenice
2.0 out of 5 stars would rather have read about the dogs.
I was very dssappointed with this book. The story was about a woman dealing with her husband's TBI, but it skipped around in time in a very disjointed way, making it difficult to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tammy Roberson
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read.
I seldom rate a full five stars but this was that good. I enjoyed the personal, honest feel to the book.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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