Vanya Demalovich has finished reading…Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged Dog Story

4 Feb

Do Russians really talk like that? Alas I don’t know enough Russians to bring personal experience to bear on the question, though Andrea Bennett lived there so she must know. I like to harbour a secret suspicion that all those dour expressions and long-winded almost formal sentences that populate the received wisdom are a front to disguise how funny they are. If the dialogue in Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged-Dog Story is anything to go by then the pensioners at least are very funny indeed.

Borough Press were kind enough to send me a special copy of this book, complete with flick-book animation running across the bottom of the page. It’s testament to how engaging this story is that I riffled the pages before I began, and then again only after I’d finished. It’s a truly engrossing read, sad and knowing and also genuinely funny. There’s a very heavy leaning toward caricature with some of the characters, though Andrea Bennett is well aware of where to draw the line with this; it never felt over-done. Don’t doubt that the people in this book are finely-honed and three-dimensional. Their hopes, their fears, their pasts and their current predicaments infect the voices Bennett has given them, and the dead-pan delivery is weighted perfectly. With the phonetic rendering of Depeche Mode songs, I was reminded of living in Spain and the day my neighbour got his guitar out and murdered U2’s ‘One’ at the top of his voice. For half an hour. At least this time I could laugh!

I found myself reminded of Michael Frayn in the willingness with which anything and everything that could go amiss did, yet again in so believable a manner I never felt my engagement stretched. And it made a really nice change to have a phalanx of pensioners leading the charge through this tale without the obligatory summing-up-my-life-in-flashbacks that tend to accompany them elsewhere in fiction. I for one hope fervently that, when this book gets picked up and made into a film they don’t skimp on the Moscow nightclub scene. Bohemian indeed!

It’s a delightful book, a picaresque that cuts its world wide open with dextrous wit.

Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged-Dog Story was published by The Borough press on 12th February 2015, ISBN:9780008108380
You can find Andrea on Twitter @andreawiderword and at her website,


3 Responses to “Vanya Demalovich has finished reading…Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged Dog Story”


  1. Van has finished reading…The Sunshine Cruise Company by John Niven | vanisreading - 04/09/2015

    […] read recently have older protagonists (the other book being Andrea Bennett’s Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged-Dog […]

  2. Van’s top five reads in 2015 | vanisreading - 07/01/2016

    […] to try and get down to a top 3. When I’m ruling out Life After Life, The Girl In The Red Coat, Galina Petrovna, The Good Son and Where’d You Go, Bernadette you’ll know how hard it was to come to a final […]

  3. Vanya Demalovich has finished reading… Two Cousins Of Azov by Andrea Bennett | vanisreading - 08/06/2017

    […] How nice it is to be back in Azov. How nice to involve oneself in the everyday of post-soviet, pre-Putin Russia. The eagle-eyed among you might recognise a certain Mr Goryoun Tigranovich Papasyan, co-protagonist of Andrea Bennett’s latest instalment on life in Azov (can we hope this will one day bloom into a Barsetshire-sized chronicle?), as the neighbour whose absence lays the first steps of Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged Dog Story. […]

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