The Boss Dog

Rarely does a reader encounter characters as sensitive to their surroundings as these. Every sensation—no matter how small—is taken in by the characters and celebrated for the readers’ enjoyment. If the events seem startlingly well-wrought and precise, it is because they are loosely based on Fisher’s own experiences with her two daughters during a year spent at Aix in the 1950’s.

The thread connecting the family’s rich experiences is the Boss Dog, a scruffy itinerant mutt who wanders along the boulevards, among the cafes, and around the statues and monuments. Regardless of his location, Boss Dog seems always to be at the right spot at the right time: whether it’s foiling thieves who are attempting to rob a local merchant or leading a daughter lost among the ruckus of a carnival to safety.

Despite the Boss Dog’s obvious appeal, the most compelling and enjoyable character in the story is Aix-en-Provence itself. Through the human characters the reader vicariously experiences the delightfully simple pleasures of this town; from an afternoon spent at the Cafe Glacier and Deux Garcons with their perfect windows on the world beyond to the splendid sights of the beautiful Cours Mirabeau and its picturesque square, Place de la Grande Fontaine. Fisher also offers the reader both residents and events that are every bit as memorable as the setting. Leon, for instance, entertains as the quintessential French waiter at Cafe Glacier, while “Monsieur the Uncle,” a nougat baron, proves to be a deliciously enigmatic figure.

Toward the end of this all-too-brief book, Fisher treats the reader to the most magical and poetic of seasons, Christmas. She begins with the local custom of buying and displaying the miniature clay figures named santos, and culminates with the vivid excitement of the costume Carnival. Fisher has succeeded in writing a story that is delicate, evocative, and, at times, purely magical.