Review: Pug Hill by Alison Pace

This fall I had the opportunity to revisit Hope McNeil, the charmingly real heroine of Alison Pace's A Pug's Tale. This time, however, my review is on Hope's story from the beginning, in Pug Hill. Originally published in 2006, Pug Hill has just been released this month in the irresistibly-priced, travel-friendly mass market paperback edition so there's no better time to jump in and discover all the wit, wisdom and wonder of pugs as seen through the eyes of Alison Pace.

Pug Hill follows Hope McNeil through the intensely relatable trials and tribulations of her life as a paintings restorer at the Met, as a newly-single singleton, as a girl struggling for confidence in a sometimes all-too-confident world and as the only person to regularly visit Central Park’s Pug Hill without, unfortunately, a pug of her own. Hope declares that Pug Hill, the hotbed of all pug adventures in the city, is to her what Tiffany’s is to Holly Golightly. It’s her happy, blissful place where no bad happens and her troubles can’t possibly touch her. And it’s a place infused with the happiness, understanding and charm that encompasses the pug breed. Nothing brings Hope down at Pug Hill – not even the thought of facing her extreme fear of public speaking when she finds herself in the position of preparing a speech for her parents’ anniversary party.

Throughout the story Hope balances her new Overcoming Presentation Anxiety class – and the sometimes crazy, often loveable cast of characters that are her classmates – and her newly-single-again life with her job at the Met, where a possible promotion lingers in the future and her biggest competition is Elliot, her inhumanly attractive coworker. Battling her slightly inappropriate crush on Elliot and working through her presentation anxiety, Hope faces a lot of challenges, but she finds her way through and learns a lot about herself in the process.

I think I loved Pug Hill even more than I loved A Pug's Tale and even City Dog, the first of Alison's titles that I read. In all, Alison's writing catches you with its depth and honesty, and through Hope she makes observations on the social spectrum that make you stop, smile and nod your head in appreciation of their truths. Hope was so easy to relate to and instantly familiar; the secondary characters scattered throughout the book (both two- and four-legged) seemed to jump off the pages at Alison's capable writing, and the story itself kept me constantly entertained. It was one of those books, the one you put down because life gets in the way and when you turn back around and see it there it’s like running back into your own little happy place – a happy place filled with snorting, joyful little pugs.

My Dusty may not be a pug, but he knows a good book when he sees one.

Title: Pug Hill Author: Alison Pace Genre: Comedy, women's fiction, chick lit Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Format: Mass Market Paperback Release date: 11/1/2011 Provided by: the author (c/o) Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million Connect with the author: official site | blog | Twitter | Facebook

Note: I originally published this content on The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower. It has been reproduced here for continuity of review-writing history.