Cover Image: Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole

Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole

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Tassen was "...the one left over when the rest of the litter is sold. An outcast...the wrong color...sold at half-price to the Major...I'm a one-man dog...I am and will always be the Major's dog...". Major Thorkildsen, a World War II veteran, his wife, and Tassen often hunted together in the Norwegian woods. The cellar was fully supplied with food. Tassen became an overgrown lap dog raised with tenderness, love and plenty of dog treats. Now that the Major has died, "What happens to Mrs. Thorkildsen and me?...I'm a widower dog...". Tassen, as narrator, tells his story.

"The big change comes in small steps". Mrs. Thorkildsen starts watching Dr. Phil on TV. "Neither Dr. Phil nor his patients speak a language known to me... I only speak Norwegian...Mrs. Thorkildsen is kind enough to always translate what the program is about that day". "The Puppy", Mrs. Thorkildsen's son visits. He attempts to do the bidding of "The Bitch", his wife. No way will Mrs. Thorkildsen move out of her digs so "The Puppy","The Bitch" and "Young Puppy" can move in!

Mrs. Thorkildsen is lonely. She drinks. No longer driving a car, she uses a wheelie bag, pulling it behind her, filled with alcoholic beverages purchased at the market. This is not the kind of walk Tassen had in mind. One special day, they go to the Fram Museum. Tassen climbs into the polar ship that sailed from Norway to Antarctica as Norwegian Explorer Roald Amundsen raced to reach the South Pole before Britian's Captain Robert Scott. Tassen sees two Greenland dogs displayed. "It wasn't until the sight of the taxidermied dogs that the gravity of the situation clearly appeared to me...What could [they] have done wrong? Chewed up one slipper too many?"

Mrs. Thorkildsen was a retired librarian. As a child, "with a book under one arm and a short stool under the other...she asked every single person she met on the street: Will you read to me?" Although technically speaking, Tassen did not read or count (other than Me, Me & You, Pack), she was determined to discuss and bring to life Amundsen's journey to the South Pole, highlighting his strength and determination, as well as explaining the plight and ordeal of the Greenland dogs. Mrs. Thorkildsen and Tassen, constant companions, thoroughly engaged in discussions about the polar expedition. Oh, what fascinating dialogue!

"Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole:A Novel" by Hans-Olav Thyvold is the story of a special canine-human friendship that addresses aging. Tassen's philosophical and humorous touch makes for a delightful read as he tries to understand the behavior of us humans!

Thank you HarperCollins Publishers/HarperVia and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Book Review: Good Dogs Don’t Make It to the South Pole
Author: Hans-Olav Thyvold
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers/Harper Via
Publication Date: August 18, 2020
Review Date: April 22, 2020

From the blurb:
“Told through the eyes of a very grumpy yet lovable mutt, a funny and touching tale of aging, death, friendship, and life that proves sometimes a dog's story is the most human of all.

Tassen has always been a one-man dog. When his human companion, Major Thorkildsen, dies, Tassen  and Mrs. Thorkildsen are left alone. Tassen mourns Major by eating too many treats, and Mrs. T by drinking too much. But the two unexpectedly find common ground in researching Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole led by a pack of intrepid dogs.

But the quiet days Tassen  and Mrs. T spend together at the library researching the explorer’s arctic adventure are disrupted by the arrival of her son and daughter in-law. Eager to move in to the Major’s spacious house, they plan to send Mrs. T to a nursing home. As he contemplates his own fate, Tassen shudders to think what might happen to him! Yet Tassen and Mrs. T aren’t about to give up. Inspired by Roald Amundsen and his dogs, this unlikely pair are ready to take on anything life throws at them.

Good Dogs Don’t Make It to the South Pole is a darkly comedic and whimsical portrayal of aging and death told through a dog’s friendship with an elderly woman.”

This was an utterly delightful book. It helps to be a dog lover, such as I am. I fell in love with Tassen, the dog. It’s rare that a dog plays the protagonist in a story, much less a speaking dog like Tassen. 

His character is so full and funny. And I loved the relationship between Mrs. Thorkildsen and Tassen. During the course of the book, they delve into the story of Roald Amundsen’s journey to the South Pole and the role Amundsen’s Greenland dogs play in that trek. It was quite dark at times, unexpectedly so. 

The plot arc is very interesting and fully developed. I highly, highly recommend this book, especially if you are a dog lover. A very unusual, witty and delightful book. Dog lovers, be sure to read this book. It’s a real treat!

Thank you to HarperCollins for early access to this book. Best of luck to the author. 

This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. 

#netgalley #gooddogsdontgotothesouthpole #hans-olavthyvold #harpercollins #dogs #roaldamundsen #southpole #explorers
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Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole is narrated by a philosophical and often grumpy Norwegian dog named Tassen. Upon the death of his owner, the Major, Tassen is forced to remake a life with the Major's widow, Mrs. Thorkildsen, trading in walks in the woods for trips to the liquor store. A trip to the library--Mrs. Thorkildsen remains an avid reader--introduces the pair to the story of Roald Amundsen and his dog-led (and dog-eating) polar expedition. Overall, it is a story less about plot than it is about a dog's often comedic perspective on life and aging. While the conceit of a "talking" philosophical dog occasionally gets overworn, Tassen nevertheless frequently delivers sharp, insightful truths about the many facets of being alive, from grief to joy to companionship. Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole will undoubtedly become a prime book club selection and a favorite of anyone who loves dogs or has experienced loss.
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Who’s a GOOD boy? Tassen is! Delightful story told from a dog’s POV. Mrs. Thorkildsen has long conversations with Tassen after the death of her husband. She explains the story of Roald Amundsen, the first person to reach the South Pole. She cuts out many, many paper dogs and props them up around the fireplace to help Tassen understand how many dogs were on that run, and what happened to them while on the ice. The two of them have many long and varied conversations with each other, at home or while out doing errands. After a near deathly tumble, Mrs. Thorkildsen is placed in a home and Tassen goes to the pound. Her son rescues him, and so the story continues. This book, the imagery, especially the paper dogs, will stick with me for a long time. One of the most charming books I’ve read in a long while. Highly recommend! 
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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What a treat! Tassen is right up there with S.T. from Hollow Kingdom as a narrator with a sympathetic but ultimately nonhuman voice. Tassen is cultured compared to S.T., but both take action to mitigate their humans'unwise choices with mixed results. Please give yourself a shot of cheer with these fully developed characters. And while we're talking about it, don't miss Three Bales Full - sheep detectives.
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Hans-Olav Thyvold has taken our favorite mutt and made him into a lovable dog named Tassen. Tassen talks to Mrs. Thorkildsen after her husband Major Thorkildsen died. What they talked about the most was about dogs and the first person to reach the South Pole, Roald Amundsen. A Norwegian before the British reached it. What was interesting was that Amundsen was in Greenland for two years before he left for the South Pole working with the Greenland dogs to master working with them. During the tales that Mrs. Thorkildsen told Tassen, she would go shipping, go to the library, then stop in at the local pub. She knew that Tassen couldn't count so she cut out dogs in paper and would talk about what they would do to the dogs aboard ship or out on the ice. Mrs. Thorkildsen had a son Tassen called puppy and he had a wife which Tassen called the bitch. The bitch ruled and the puppy did her bidding, which was to get Mrs. Thorkildsen to move into a old persons home, so they could have her home for themselves. It happens at the pub, Mrs. Thorkildsen falls and the end is near. Puppy finds Tassen in a dog pound and takes the mantle over as the boss of Tassen. There is plenty of illustrations of what happens during the time Tassen makes his moves. Read it for yourself to see how it proceeds in telling Hans-Olav's story.
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