THE STUFFED DOG by Peter de Polnay


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This dry, droll bagatelle is not quite as directly engaging as de Polnay's previous strolls around la ronde amoreuse, since haft of the tale is a fragmented tale-within-a-tale, the erotic memoirs of English-blooded, French-bred, 85-year-old Julian Bainley: ""Women were his life, and when I say women I mean women in his bed."" In a village near Angouleme, Bainley is dictating this fleshly catalogue (dancer Muriel, widow Marie-Laure, urchin Odette, tragic Heather) to hack writer Hilary Cannon, a young fellow with entanglements of his own--he's sharing his hotel room with American Sandra but falling in love with the innkeeper's daughter, Francine. While Bainley eagerly summons up the seductions and betrayals--a rather straightforward account except for his sketchy references to a magical journey back to Merovingian times (""So your penis bridged fourteen centuries,"" Hilary murmurs)--Hilary finds himself free to cavort with Francine, Sandra having run off with an (unconvincing) American superstud (""Mine's elephant size. Want to look at it?"") who steals her money and leaves her stranded. Bainley dies before recounting his last lusts, Sandra and Hilary are reunited (Francine won't give up the family hotel business), and, if the de Polnay skill and wit manage to beckon you on, they leave you with nothing for your trouble. Except. The dog of the title is Bainley's beloved terrier Tankard, once his companion on paws, now his taxidermied companion on casters: the one vivid, lingering figure in a mildly diverting, mildly arousing Continental landscape.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's