You've probably seen the film but if you haven't read the book on which the film was based, you've missed out. The book includes a lot more about the relationship between Marley and John Grogan. John's thoughts and his interpretations of Marley; things that you can't really portray in a film adequately. Where the film makes the most of its human stars as well as its canine, the book has Marley firmly centre stage.
The sub-title of the book is "life and love with the world's worst dog", and like most owners, it's the love part that makes John Grogan tolerate all the rest. Marley is of course a dog that is difficult to live with. He is terrified of thunder, and becomes extremely destructive during storms. He resists obedience training, and has a huge talent for doing the wrong thing at the right time. Being a Labrador, he also has a knack for doing the right thing at times, and the bond he has with his family, and his ability to comfort them - particularly Jenny Grogan - is nicely described.
Unless you have the hardest of hearts, there will be tears, as this book tells Marley's whole story, from naughty puppyhood to the gradual onset of old age and infirmity. However, unlike the film, the book has so much more of the rest of Marley's full life to balance the pain of his loss, so it is more bearable and feels less manipulative.
It was the public response to John Grogan's columns featuring Marley that lead to the book being written, and Marley's appeal is irresistible. So much so that the book became a New York Times Bestseller. If you know what it is to have a well loved canine member of the family, you'll enjoy the book. If you don't know what that's like, Marley & Me will give you a great insight.
Review by Julie Hill