cover image The Dogs of Littlefield

The Dogs of Littlefield

Suzanne Berne, read by Carol Monda. Brilliance Audio, unabridged, 7 CDs, 8.5 hrs., $29.99 ISBN 978-1-5113-3568-3

Berne’s novel combines elements of a mystery and a family saga with scathing dark humor about contemporary American suburbia. The idyllic college town of Littlefield, Mass., prides itself on it education, tolerance, and enlightenment, but it unravels when someone starts poisoning the community’s beloved canines. Acclaimed narrator Monda is particularly adept at portraying the complex inner monologues of the story’s protagonist, frustrated homemaker Margaret Downing. Monda doesn’t miss a beat in switching between Margaret’s very different public and private demeanors as she navigates the terrains of a troubled marriage, a withdrawn preteen daughter, and the contentious local political scene. Monda also shines in her rendering of the nuances of group dynamics in the small town, most notably in a botched meeting of Littlefield’s women’s book club, as guest local author George Wechsler—who happens to be Margaret’s secret lover—is met with personal attacks thinly disguised as literary questions from his angry ex-mother-in-law. Monda’s depictions of male characters possess a husky affectation that doesn’t sound all that natural, but her overall gift for tackling dialogue remains intact. [em]A Simon & Schuster hardcover. (Jan.) [/em]