Title: Wild Dog
Author: Serge Joncour
Translator: Jane Aitken & Polly Mackintosh
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Gallic Books
Publication Date: 2nd April 2020
Franck and Lise, a French couple in the film industry, rent a cottage in the quiet hills of the French Lot to get away from the stresses of modern life.
In this remote corner of the world, there is no phone signal. A mysterious dog emerges, looking for a new master. Ghosts of a dark past run wild in these hills, where a German lion tamer took refuge in the First World War . . .
Franck and Lise are confronted with nature at its most brutal. And they are about to discover that man and beast have more in common than they think.
I’m always excited to read a book published by Gallic because they are usually genuinely something quite different and unusual, and Wild Dog did not disappoint! The story is split into two timelines, one in 2017 following Lise and Franck, a French couple who decide to holiday in a mysterious, remote and completely disconnected house and the other in 1914, during World War I, following the events surrounding the same remote area in turbulent wartime. Both perspectives are compelling and work beautifully in tandem.
There was a mysterious atmosphere to Wild Dog, present from the very beginning that clings all the way through this fascinating read. The chapters are mostly only a few pages long so the reader is transported between the past and the present startlingly quickly which I would have thought may be slightly jarring. However, it actually worked incredibly well in my view, I felt like it kept the two narratives connected in a way that felt natural and allowed the power of the environment to shine through both. Nature is like the main character in Wild Dog in many ways. The natural world has a genuine presence on the page and feels like a living breathing organism all the way through. I don’t think I’ve read many books that capture so effectively the brutality and unyielding control our environment can have over our lives when we strip everything back to basics.
There is a eerie quality to the writing which kept the tension high and which I just love in this kind of book. The animals that drive a great deal of the story are described in such a visceral way that at times is genuinely chilling. This isn’t a typical thriller in many ways, but it is a fascinating look at our primal instincts as human beings and poses the question of whether we are all that different to the animals we share this world with. An original and intense read.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is my own honest opinion.