Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Spuddy (1974)

The Spuddy

Lillian Beckwith

1974, Hutchinson & Co. (UK),1976, Delacorte Press (US)

Despite his hybridism (Joe used to say his coat looked as if someone had dipped him in a barrel of glue and then emptied a flock mattress over him) the dog had an air of self-assurance emphasized by an arrogantly held head and a long droop of a setter-like tail which, as he moved with his easy sauntering gait, swung from side to side with the stateliness of an ermine cloak.

Andy is nine, and lonely. His father is a merchant seaman, away for long stretches of time, and his mother has run off with another man. Worst of all, Andy is mute. Shipped off to stay with his aunt and uncle in a fishing village, Andy strikes up a friendship with an abandoned dog, a grey-black mongrel named The Spuddy. His relatives are kind, but forbid him to keep the dog at home, putting Andy to some trouble to provide for his new friend. But it's worth it to the abandoned boy.

As he walked toward him the Spuddy sat watching, cautiously assessing the boy's approach. Andy saw the dog's ears twitch, the tail begin to wave, and most comforting of all, the eyes brighten with welcome. Love and gratefulness surged through Andy. He began to feel wanted again and he bent down and let the Spuddy lick his ear before they raced off happily toward the open moors.

The two soon befriend Jake, skipper of the Silver Crest. Jake should be a happily married man with a baby son, but his wife has essentially abandoned him to go live with her parents, and he's lonely too. The mutt turns out to have a nose for sniffing out fish, and Jake's luck begins to turn.

It's notable that the women in this book are all villains. The aunt comes off best, but she's the one who refuses to let Andy keep the dog at home. The men are all gruff, baffled victims of feminine whims, and you get the sense that everyone on the fishing boats prefer the wild and woolly seas to the drama of the hearth.

A well-written adventure which is curiously muffled, as Andy and the dog don't speak, and much of the plot is related as a story, not shown as action.

About the Author


Her real name was Lillian Comber. She and her husband moved to the Isle of Skye in 1942, and several of her books were based on her life there. They moved to the Isle of Man in 1962.

Other Books - based on Skye

The Hills is Lonely

The Sea for Breakfast

The Loud Halo

A Rope - In Case

Lightly Poached

Beautiful Just!

Bruach Blend

Other Books

Green Hand

A Shine Of Rainbows

A Proper Woman

The Small Party

An Island Apart

A Breath of Autumn

Bay Of Strangers - short stories

About My Father's Business - autobiography



Links for the Skye books

Wiki about the Hebrides

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