Back to Article List

Inspiration: Animals: our constant companions : 0% read

A A A
A
Page is loading, please wait...

Loading...

Inspiration: Animals: our constant companions

Yesterday, I went to London and walked around The Wallace Collection with my dear friend, the writer, Jane Cooper and her husband, Kenny.  As I took in the faces of the French and English aristocracy, of Dutch landscapes and family portraits, I was struck by how, in each room, at least picture (usually more) featured an animal. Sometimes brutally so, in the depiction of a hunt, but often in a gentler form.  A dog looking up to his mistress .  A cat snuggled into the arms of a child. A bird of prey held at the end of an arm.  Animals form an intrinsic part of our human story and these artists understood that.

From the baby Kite and Max, the dog, in When I Hold My Breath, to Hamlet, the micro-pig in What Milo Saw, every one of my novels has given an important place to animals.  Besides my love of animals, I think I do this because they are such a vital part of our lives, because as we make our way through the world, they accompany us like a chorus: the birds that fly over our heads, often unnoticed, the dogs we own or walk past along the pavement, the cats that warm corners of our beds and favourite chairs, the ants that creep onto sticky surfaces in those hot, summer days, the mosquitos that dance on our skin when we go on holiday, the frogs that come out in the rain and the rabbits that dash under the bushes of our back gardens in Spring.  They are our constant companions. They touch parts of ourselves that fellow human beings cannot.  They offer solace and warmth and beauty.  Children, in particular, have an instinctive love for animals, they have a special communion, a magical connection.  And animals themselves observe us – they have their thoughts, and they must wonder, sometimes, at the strange nature of our human behaviour.  That is certainly the case for Buddy, the Great, slobbering Saint Bernard who lives with the Wingfields in my latest novel, Coming Home.  I may even give him a voice, slotted in between the chapters…