Timoleon Vieta Come Home by Dan Rhodes
This is the story of a mongrel dog with the ‘saddest eyes in the world’. One day a stray dog turns up at retired British composer Cockcroft’s Italian villa. The dog has beautiful eyes and Cockcroft is very happy to gain a new companion, for he has been lonely since his last lover left. Soon man and dog become inseparable.
Cockcroft hates being alone, and has over the years since his enforced retirement from the UK in disgrace, somehow managed to attract a stream of willing house-guests by offering room and board in return for a weekly blow job! One day, a visitor arrives unexpectedly – a handsome Bosnian, whom it turns out Cockcroft invited him to visit when he was last in Florence. Timoleon Vieta growls at him taking a mutual instant dislike, but Cockcroft welcomes him even though he can’t remember who he is. The Bosnian, who is keen to lie low for a bit, insinuates himself into Cockcroft’s life. He does odd jobs, and performs his weekly service, but he wishes all the time that he could get rid of the dog. His wish comes true on a trip to Rome, when he forces Cockcroft to abandon Timoleon Vieta there.
The second part of the book is then the story of all the people whom Timoleon Vieta comes into contact with as he tries to get home to Tuscany and his beloved master. All these people are falling in and out of love, and Timoleon Vieta passes through their lives briefly, but their love is no match for his master’s.
This novel was Dan Rhodes’ first, and having read and loved one of his later ones, Gold, which was like a twisted version of Last of the Summer Wine, I was hoping to really enjoy this book. Timoleon Vieta come home is much more savage in its humour and darker throughout than the later novel. With some graphic descriptions you need to be rather broad-minded too. I didn’t engage with the stories within the story of the second half much though – they were full of emotion and exquisitely crafted but some were quite extended, and I was itching to find out what was happening with Cockcroft and the Bosnian.
Rhodes has created some memorable main characters: Cockcroft is a silly old fool, and the Bosnian, although not nice, turns out to be quite complex – but what of the dog? Sorry, I can’t tell you – you’ll have to read it yourself. (7.5/10)
For another take on this book, read Simon Savidge’s review here. I did a bookswap for this book.
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