After a very long silence (his last novel, What Shy Men Dream, was published in 1969), Constable delivers a light, quirky love story featuring a myopic Philadelphia publisher and a dog who changes his life. For some years, Lake Stevenson has made good progress with his small, self-owned company (InstruX Associates, a producer of instructional manuals for other businesses' products), but the youngish, single entrepreneur clearly could use an instructional manual himself when it comes to his maddeningly meandering personal life. Issues of commitment and destiny come to a head when Lake's elderly Aunt Ilsa dies, leaving Lake her mansion in Chestnut Hill on the sole condition that he also adopt Randall, her dog, and share her house with the animal for the rest of its life. Heartless Lake hardly gives Ilsa's wishes a second thought before he begins planning how to ``lose'' the dog, sell the house, and invest the proceeds in his company. His insensitivity, along with an inability to see himself actually living in such a grand home, finally prompts Lake's girlfriend to give up on him and leave. Her departure only spurs Lake on toward his poorly examined goal. Nevertheless, it turns out that even this man can live and learn, at least when sufficient motivation presents itself: Randall grows on him, and, more importantly, the pretty real-estate agent Lake engages to sell the house so charms its owner that he alters his plans completely to win her approval. In the end, the house, the girl, and the dog all go to our hero—a man more lucky than wise. Winsome and sweet, with a sly humor that lingers deliciously in the memory.
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