Wow. This is one of those books that has left me reeling. I'm going to use the word beautiful here too. There is both ugliness and beauty in this book, sadness and joy. It contains a slowly revealing plot so I need to be careful not to reveal too much here. The fact that Helena has recently died of cancer is ugly and sad, but the fact that she is still there in spirit, still watching her husband, her pig, her dogs, her cats, her horses, her friends and co workers, watching them deal with their loss of her and reach out and bond with each other as a result, is beautiful. Unfortunately for Helena, she can see, but she cannot touch. She can hear, but cannot answer back.
The two chimpanzees that are in lab captivity, one in the past, one in the present and the ensuing court case that follows is an ugly thing, but the emotional bonding between the chimpanzees' and their caregivers, the love that one can develop for an animal and the fight for that animal's life: beautiful.
The fact that a dog is dying on an operator table is heartbreaking and ugly, but the young boy with Asperger's who walks in and "feels" and vocalizes the dog's thoughts is so beautiful I struggled not to burst into tears. The boy, Clifford, senses the dying dog's joy at seeing his beloved and formerly passed away human companion. For me, this was the most moving moment in the entire novel.
There's a man dealing with the loss of his wife, a single mother trying to provide her son with the best life possible despite his Asperger's, a woman fighting for the rights of a chimpanzee, and numerous animals dealing with grief in their own way. And not to mention an amazing and thought evoking court trial involving the rights of animals.
A wonderful scene takes place in le Cimetiere des Chiens, the land of dogs in Paris, France. Apparently, Paris has a cemetery devoted to passed away pets. It sounds wonderful. It's going on my "places to visit before I die" list.
A quote from Sir Walter Scott is mentioned in this part of the book. "I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives, and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?"
Favorite quote: "My husband once told me that animals were put on this earth to help redeem us. That must be hard work, but they n ever give up on us. It would make sense to me that, when it's all over, they finally get to just enjoy the fruits of their labor."
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has loved a pet or felt strongly about animal rights. Fans of John Grisham and legal thrillers will also enjoy it. This book is scheduled for official release in August of next year. I obtained an egalley thru netgalley, thus any of the above quotes may be different in the actual publication.