The Dog Walker
Leslie Schnur
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Buy *The Dog Walker* online

The Dog Walker
Leslie Schnur
Washington Square Press
336 pages
June 2005
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Bitter, burnt-out and divorced, Nina Shepard, a romantic at heart, decides to temporarily take up the job of dog walker on the streets of Manhattan. From swanky apartments to luxurious brownstones, Nina develops a routine collecting dogs of all sizes and breeds. She also gets into the habit of poking though the lives and closets of her clients, trying to find in their lives whatís lacking in hers. Nina finds that like the dogs she walks, their owners too are varied in their personalities: generous, garrulous, offhand, complaining, and sometimes even downright nasty.

But there are two who especially capture Ninaís attention - Bono, a lonely rich kid who longs for his U2-groupie momís affection and attention and instead settles for movies and keeping Nina company, and lawyer Daniel Maguire, with whom Nina falls in love, sight unseen. Knowing him only by going through his stuff, Nina discovers in Daniel her soul mate. But what she doesnít realize is that Daniel isnít who she thinks he is. And then thereís another client Mrs. Chandler, an eccentric and wealthy writer in whom Daniel is unduly interested. What will happen when truths are revealed and secrets come tumbling out of closets?

Author Leslie Schnur has a disjointed and conversational style of writing that fits the rambling plot perfectly and adds luster to this already sparkling tale. By turns comical and serious, the story has more than enough characters, both human and canine, whose antics and affairs are guaranteed to keep the readers enthralled. Central character Nina inspires both ire and pity in the readers with her nosiness, but as the story progresses we come to discover her valid reasons for being so. Her twisted sense of right and wrong, her dedication and her compassion are all wonderfully real. Davidís (or whoever he really is) reasons for secrecy and his growing romantic feelings towards his nosy dog walker wage a war within him thatís edgy and interesting. Their dilly-dallying romance is also unpredictable enough to keep the readers interested until the very end.

Schnur takes great delight in exploring New York and takes a candid and realistic look at its residents, an interesting and contradictory bunch with their snootiness and large-heartedness, with a general distrust thatís at complete odds with their absolute trust in their dog walkers, who love their dogs and yet donít have time to walk them. In short, this is a story filled with the subtle nuances of human relationships, rich and complex in their gravity and diversity and has enough self-deprecating humor to make it an absolute and entertaining treat.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Rashmi Srinivas, 2004

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