Back in 2009, I read Gold by Dan Rhodes, a book which I really enjoyed (and whose ending broke my heart), so I quickly mooched this one at the time, so I could read some more of his books, and it’s sat on my shelf ever since. Quite often been considered for reading, but never quite making it off the shelf.
Finally a couple of weeks ago, it finally made off the shelf and into my hands.
Meet the mongrel. Timoleon Vieta. A deeply loyal, undemanding and loving companion …with the most beautiful eyes. He’s living an idyllic existence in the Italian countryside with Cockroft, a composer in exile. Until, that is, the mysterious and malevolent Bosnian comes to stay.
How will the stranger affect the bond between dog and master? Timoleon Vieta Come Home is a free-wheeling take on the Lassie legend, deeply moving and hysterically funny.
— Publisher’s Blurb
First off, I’m so glad I read Gold first, because I don’t think I’d have picked up Dan Rhodes again, if this had been my first novel I’d read by him. There are lots of things I really disliked about this one, but before I get in to why that is, there were flashes of the things I liked about Gold in this one so, lets look at the positives and things I did like first.
The first half of the book introduces us to the friendship between Cockroft and his dog Timoleon Vieta. Cockroft is a deeply flawed genius, who has managed to pretty much throw away his talent and friendships though bad choices, and now lives in exile, deep in the Italian countryside . Timoleon Vieta, the dog with the most beautiful eyes, is pretty much his only companion. So, when ‘The Bosnian’ turns up he is so desperate for company and to be liked, that he doesn’t see (or chooses not to) that The Bosnian is all who he purports to be.
The Bosnian hates Timioleon Vieta. Timolean Vieta hates the Bosnian. One of them has to go.
The second half of the novel, is a series of short stories, of the people Timoleon Vieta encounters or passes by on his long trip back to Cockroft.
Some of these stories were (for the most part) fascinating, moving, and could be worth the price of the admission as it were… But Rhodes, seems unable to give us even the merest hint of a happy ending. Preferring to savagely kill off any hope/positives the reader may have towards the stories, in Gold, it was heart-rending, but in this one, it’s just unremittingly depressing.
And the ending this time? Unnecessarily cruel.
As for it being ‘hysterically funny’ it may occasionally raise a titter, but that’s about it.