Monday, August 17, 2015

The Last Days of Dogtown - Anita Diamant

The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant
Publisher - Scribner
Publish Date - 7/18/06
Genre - Historical Fiction
Buy on Amazon

When I’m browsing the aisles at a bookstore looking for my next read, I absolutely judge books by their cover. If the cover looks interesting, I will pick it up and read the synopsis. Unless someone else gives me a suggestion or an actual book, this is how I make all of my purchases.

The Last Days of Dogtown was kind of an exception to this rule. It was the strange title that made me pick this book up, the cover didn’t do a whole lot for me but it got my attention nonetheless. I honestly can’t even really tell WHAT this woman on the cover is doing. If someone has any input on this, please let me know.

This novel takes place in Massachusetts during the 1800’s, specifically Cape Ann, and is directly inspired by the real Dogtown settlement. It gets its name from a pack of wild dogs who roam in and out of the crumbling town. Dogtown is full of interesting characters like orphans, alcoholics, prostitutes and widows all trying to make their living in this relatively barren town. Ms. Stanley runs the town’s brothel. Black Ruth is a stonemason who dresses like a man. Judy Rhines is unmarried and takes Cornelius, a freed slave, as her lover. Most outsiders to Dogtown believe these people are witches and thus, most of the population of Dogtown is shunned.

Diamant takes you on a journey with each of these characters as they try to survive and make the best of life in a small town on the decline. It’s a startling and revealing look at humanity during a rarely remembered chapter of early American History. I found myself having a bit of trouble keeping interested in the details of the plot but Diamant’s prose is beautiful and haunting.

You can probably discern from the title where this book finally ends but getting there is a journey. If you are into books with happy endings, I wouldn’t recommend this to you. I can honestly say that while reading this book, I felt pretty sad and depressed. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing but rather it speaks to how affecting the novel was, even if the plot development wasn’t gripping.

Pair This With: Doña Paula 2012 Malbec

I wanted a rich, full red wine that could hold up to the dark tone of this novel and this Malbec was perfect. The wonderful people at Wine Chateau sent me this wine to try and I loved it. Doña Paula Estate is in Argentina and has been producing wine since 1990. Argentina is definitely a close second to Spain when it comes to my favorite wine regions. Overall this Malbec is a medium-bodied wine with hints of blackberries and violets. I got a lot of tannins which makes the wine full of flavor but it is still very easy to drink.


  1. I might have to pick this one up. It sounds pretty interesting tho I'm not much for sad endings in books.

    1. If you enjoy historical fiction, you should check it out! I can honestly say this book doesn't have a horribly sad ending but it doesn't leave you with warm and fuzzies. The ending just sort of "is" if that makes sense!

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  3. This has been on my shelf to read forever. I loved The Red Tent by her. Have you read that?

    1. I haven't but it sounds like that one got rave reviews. I may have to check it out. Thanks!