But I’m a sucker for a novel written from an animal’s point of view, and Tomorrow (yes, that’s the dog’s name) offers such an evocative window into Europe between the 1600s and 1800s. At a glance, this story may be about a dog trying desperately to reunite with his owner, but the story is much, much more than that.
A pervading theme makes us question the value of life – would we value our existence if it was limitless? Tomorrow and his master, Valentyne, both enjoy an eternal life that is juxtaposed with the ephemeral; when we meet secondary characters such as the indomitable Sporco or the sensitive Blaise, whose lives are but instants in those of our protagonists, these short-lived characters’ vitality and ‘presentness’ becomes all the more apparent. We examine also the complex relationship between two men – Valentyne and his counterpart Vilder. Each copes with eternity in different ways: Valentyne by working to preserve the lives of others and bring them comfort, and Vilder, by pursuing a more hedonistic, self-centred life. Neither seem to gain any satisfaction through their actions, and through the ages are locked in a love/hate relationship.
We see also, a Europe turned upside down by war, with graphic illustration of the battle of Waterloo and the resultant carnage that is brought to life in such a way that will leave you in no doubt that war is far from noble. Threaded through this is a search for meaning, because a life without the limitations placed upon it by death, can easily become meaningless.
Tomorrow is not a happy read, but it is filled with evocative prose and astute observations. In addition, the novel jumps backwards and forwards in time, and this non-linear execution may be confusing to some. If viewed in a linear way, the plot isn’t all that developed – there are patches that fall flat, and are propped up by the author’s lush style. So, this is more a novel about internal alchemy for Valentyne, in which we are not privy to his thoughts, but we view his journey through the lens of his loyal dog. In that sense, I don’t think this novel is going to be for everyone, but it’s certainly a memorable story that will prey on my mind for a while yet.