Katrina Nannestad, The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome, HarperCollins Australia, 23 Oct 2017, 352pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9780733338175
Freya is a shy and unusual girl who enjoys an extraordinary life travelling with her mother, Clementine, scientifically observing animals in the wild. Living only a few short months among civilization while Clementine presents her findings to her colleagues is difficult for Freya. Her world is turned upside down on one such visit when Clementine reveals she is sick and needs to go away for treatment. Freya will be taken care of by a mysterious stranger, Tobias Appleby and so ensues a beautifully crazy adventure.
Tobias Appleby is a delightful character who has all the hallmarks of the eccentric writer who is wholly devoured by his artform. He is not used to children and Freya is not used to people and so their communications are often sweetly awkward. It is rewarding to journey with these two characters as they discover they are capable of far more than they could have dreamed – friendship, love, and particularly for Freya, pushing past social boundaries that paralysed her in the past.
Overlaying this journey of self-discovery is the mystery of who Tobias Appleby is to Clementine, a friend? Freya’s father? A Brother? In fact, mystery swirls round Tobias throughout the whole book as he lives the stories he creates in the quirkiest of ways – reenacting crime scenes using pasta sauce to solve gruesome cases for example!
These two make a delightful pair and this beautifully paced story is sure to be treasured by adventure lovers from age 10 +.
Reviewed by Katie Mineeff