Review: Nigel – my Family and Other Dogs


Cat lover Miranda Spary finds herself turning to the ‘dog side’ after reading Monty Don’s memoir.

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Review: Miranda Spary

Are your fingers far from green and are dogs definitely not your best friend? The newly published Nigel – my Family and Other Dogs may well convert readers who aren’t fans of our canine companions and who never venture into the garden.

The author is Monty Don, Britain’s most popular TV gardener although the Nigel, the title character is the star of the show. This golden retriever even has his own business card and calls himself the “lead presenter” and refers to Monty as his “faithful assistant”.

Monty’s always been dotty about dogs, and this memoir explores his relationship with all the dogs and gardens in his life using the same great humour and insight. His stories are enormously entertaining and given how short a dog’s lifespan is compared with humans, there are many moments that will have the reader’s eyes welling up. And of course, gardens also have a story to tell – plants are always dying, growing in places they aren’t meant to be, losing limbs or coming down with diseases. But aside from all that outdoor drama – gardens can be beautiful.

I’m from the school of thought that dogs should be workers and need to serve a purpose, but this book has convinced me that simply by being a loyal companion, pet dogs have an important role and can enrich our lives. It’s also convinced me that gardens are more than just something to look at, they are a place to go to work out problems, get over sad times, provide a reason to get up in the morning. Who doesn’t love the smell of the first lily of the valley or finding one more rose when the garden looks as if it has packed up for the winter? Or the feeling of satisfaction when all the new seedlings are in, and the weeds are out. I wish that feeling lasted longer.

Even the anti-dog brigade will find plenty to enjoy in this memoir, and the pro-dog and garden mob will practically roll on their backs and whimper with delight.

Like this review? Read more by Miranda Spary

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