Norton’s Philosophical Memoirs by Håkan Nesser – Book Review

Title: Norton’s Philosophical Memoirs

Author: Håkan Nesser

Genre/Themes: Fictional Memoir based on Real Life, Dogs

Blurb from Goodreads

Norton is probably one of the most well-travelled dogs in the world. He has chased down tennis balls in Central Park, checked out the fairer sex in Kensington Gardens and rescued a woman in distress on the Swedish island of Gotland. Norton and Håkan got to spend eleven years together.

They shared many adventures and developed an enormously strong bond of love and friendship. In these memoirs, Norton the dog and the philosopher recounts his numerous travels, his best tips for enjoying life, and the many wisdoms he has amassed from living his life with the two-legged race called human beings.

Composed with love, tenderness and subtle sense of humour, Norton’s Philosophical Memoirs is Håkan Nesser’s small, thoughtful and celebratory volume to his beloved dog Norton. A book that will suit both dog lovers as well as anyone who has ever wondered what human behaviour actually looks like to our four-legged friend.

My Review

Norton’s Philosophical Memoirs is a novella written from the viewpoint of the author Håkan Nesser’s dog Norton.

The aim of the book is to explore and illustrate how dogs view the human world and also for Norton to impart his quiet words of wisdom.

It’s an exceptionally short book that takes mere moments to read through, and is therefore a book that benefits from a quiet surrounding and a warm cuppa in hand.

As a dog lover I was very interested to read this interpretation of human life through canine eyes but sadly I found it not to be to my taste. I very much appreciated the concept and the quiet tone of the novella but overall it left me feeling a little cold.

In many respects I found Norton to be too much of a philosophical narrator and therefore I never quite connected to the heart of this story. There just wasn’t enough warmth or emotion emanating from these pages. I’ve spent my life so far with six dogs. Each one ever so special, and with each one I have countless stories I could relate. When I think of all the times I’ve spent with each of them… well I know there were so many happy and joyful times, and that these emotions weren’t just mine. They were my dogs’ too.

Overall I felt that the story of Norton would have benefitted from being a longer book with more tales about his life experiences. At a mere ninety odd pages (including illustrations) this just felt too short for me as a read, and sadly I therefore felt that this novella just doesn’t hold up against all the other books I’ve read with dogs as the main feature.


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