(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010)
This novel is enjoyable for mainly one reason – the narrator, Maf, is a dog. He is a well-spoken, aristocratic Maltese terrier, owned by Marilyn Monroe shortly before her death. O’Hagan depicts animals as capable of speech, able to absorb and retain the best of what is known to their owners and those they meet. The novel is longwinded and arcane in parts, but also contains masterful passages that show precise observation and are deeply moving, such as the book’s last few paragraphs where Maf lies down on Marilyn’s bed to wait for her, and sniffs her “exact and everlasting scent”.
PS; in real life Marilyn did have a dog called Maf, who went to live in the White House after she died. The novel won O’Hagan a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award.