It's easy to remember Marilyn Monroe as the gorgeous, glittering actress we still swoon over today. But as we learn from Andrew O'Hagan's witty novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, it wasn't all red carpets and cocktail parties. In this funny and heartfelt work of fiction, Hagan's given a voice to Monroe's (real-life) constant companion, who sneaks us a peek into the struggles and secrets that his owner had to deal with in her final months.
Between hanging out with Frank Sinatra and John F. Kennedy to whirlwind trips to L.A. and Mexico, Maf the Maltese (whose purebred "pedigree was terrifically in tact," he recalls early on) tags along with his famous friend, providing insight and fun along the way. Reminding us a little bit of the pups in Homeward Bound or Lassie (who is Maf's idol in the story), the novel gives the dog a definite personality, one that's smart, learned and will do anything to protect his vulnerable owner.
At first glance, Maf the Dog might seem simple, but once you get engrossed in the story (which happened to us pretty much immediately), you'll soon discover that the protagonist isn't only remarking on Marilyn's life, but also giving commentary on the culture of the American '60s.
Equal parts The Great Gatsby and Lolita, this smart novel gives the idea of animal instinct a whole new twist. And who knows? After reading it, you may never look at your own pet the same way again.