Animal Magnetism
by Rita Mae Brown

Ballantine Books NY, 2009. ISBN 978-0-345-51179-9.
Reviewed by Martha Meacham
Posted on 11/18/2009

Nonfiction: Memoir

The voice that emerges from the pages of Animal Magnetism is a strong woman's narrative. With a Yankee directness, somewhat urgent and straight to the point, the author calls to the reader to pay attention to important lessons about life that can be learned from the animal kingdom. This book was written during the throes of global economic turmoil in 2008-2009 and is full of common-sense wisdom gleaned from a life of observing and learning the language of cats, dogs, horses, foxes and birds.

Rita Mae Brown speaks with love about her farm and the animal companions with whom she shares her home, the rivers, and fields. The story begins and ends in the mountains of Virginia, deep in horse country where—to this horsewoman—life isn't complete without foxhounds, horses, foxes and cats. She writes about home and the significance of the places she lived growing up. Early chapters reveal more about family and four-legged characters than about herself and her descriptive language gives us a taste of what it was like growing up in the 1950's after WW2. We get to know her father and mother, and slowly we discover more about this fiercely independent woman who was carefully schooled in cotillion Southern manners. Terse sentences portray a woman who is usually short with words, yet the descriptive language she uses when sharing observations about her pets reveal her true passion.

The author makes no bones about her critical views of destructive human behavior when she speaks of California and Florida being lost to development. "The loss of animal habitat, the killing of the animals themselves can never be reversed." Her ideas are presented with an underlying wit and grit and the message is clear: "Country knowledge is shrinking."

There are plenty of prudent suggestions about living on this planet and treating each other, humans and animals, with love. In this story, nature and animals provide comfort, solace and a sense that we are not alone, but part of a greater plan.

Animal Magnetism is a touching account of a Rita Mae Brown's life lived with passion for the untamed and tamed natural world.

Rita Mae Brown is an Emmy nominated screen writer, poet and NY Times Best Selling Author with numerous book titles. She co-authored the Mrs. Murphy series with her cat, Sneaky Pie. Her passion is foxhunting with her American Foxhound dogs. She resides on a farm in Afton, Virginia. Visit her website.

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