I received Traveling Light as a gift from Paul Handover, Learning from Dogs, in late August as a result of a challenge he made on his web site to write a story about wolves and their early encounters with humans. You can read his initial blog challenge here, and my story here.
My Thoughts on Traveling Light
This is an entertaining read for a Sunday afternoon when you are looking for distraction from everyday life, a story to get lost in for a couple of hours.
Main character, Paula Makaikas has come to a mid-life crossroad, a point instantly recognizable to many of us — a shaky marriage, a good job that no longer challenges. Life for Paula is by rote, full of excuses. Then, she inherits a dog (who turns out to be a wolf), such a startling change in her routine that she decides the way to deal with the dog, the marriage, the job, is to ‘cross the road’ and travel against the traffic.
This is a happy story and ends well for Paula, and her friends, both new ones she encounters during her journey, and her old friends.
The dog, named Fotis (‘Like Light’ in Greek), represents a side of Paula that is emergent (the dog is a wolf both in ancestry and reality), that is wild, unnerving, unknowable and unpredictable. On the opposite side is Paula’s husband Roger, the hoarder, who stands for that part of Paula that is afraid, who needs security and material, familiar reassurances to get through life.
The story follows Paula’s and Fotis’ journey from city to country, security to challenge and change and so on. But Thalasinos’ voice is light and clear, keeping the story unpredictable enough to thoroughly enjoy. The author’s knowledge of animals and human/animal nature underlies the story to make it work without heroics, but with a steady, recognizable pace that leaves a thoughtful understanding of where we humans stand between nature and civilization.
Ordinarily, I am not a huge fan of animal stories, but Traveling Light is a journey worth taking, an afternoon well spent with Paula and Fotis. Five Stars.