Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres, Book Review: Life affirming

Louis de Bernieres’ Red Dog novel is a charming tale, the audiobook perfect for a long family car trip. Fiction based on a life-affirming Australian legend. Read my full review.

Note: Not to be confused with Norman Bridwell’s iconic Clifford the Big Red Dog books for younger children, now a motion picture also.

Red Dog Book Review

Red Dog Book Synopsis

Red Dog is a West Australian, a lovable friendly red kelpie who found widespread fame as a result of his habit of travelling all over Western Australia, hitching rides over thousands of miles, settling in places for months at a time and adopting new families before heading off again to the next destination and another family – sometimes returning to say hello years later.

While visiting Australia, Louis de Bernieres heard the legend of Red Dog and decided to do some research on this extraordinary story. After travelling to Western Australia and meeting countless people who’d known and loved Red Dog, Louis decided to spread this dog’s fame a little further. 

Genre: Action-Adventure, Audio, Drama

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post we may earn a small commission to help offset our running costs.


I will say right up front, do not pick up this title expecting a literary marvel. That is not what Red Dog is. Although this novella is based on a series of historical accounts of people’s interactions with a special dog that lived in Western Australian in the 1970s, one must remember that what Louis de Bernieres has shaped from that legend is a work of fiction.

In Red Dog Louis de Bernieres has told a charming tale that will appeal to young and old.

The writing is clear and non-taxing, yet the story remains compelling – what story about a clever dog isn’t? Despite the inevitable sad endings of all dog stories, the journey itself is life-affirming.

To believe there’s so many dogs that all look the same.’ Nancy smiled to herself. Red Dog was everybody’s dog now.

I listened to Red Dog in audio, narrated by David Field, and a more Aussie voice you could not ask for.

This story is so colloquially ‘Aussie Outback’, it at times verges on kitsch. Although the characters within this novel embody the spirit and attitude that have made Australia the wonderful country it is today, I must stress to my international readers, we don’t all talk like that!

While this title will not win any literary awards, it is a great book for children or young adults. At just over 2 hours in audio, it would make a nice listen for that long family car trip.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 3.5 / 5  —  Overall 3.75

Get your copy of Red Dog from:

Amazon Book Depository Booktopia AU

OR listen to the audiobook FREE with Audible’s Trial (check eligibility)

About the Author, Louis de Bernieres

Louis de Bernières (born 8 December 1954) is a British novelist most famous for his fourth novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. In 1993 de Bernières was selected as one of the “20 Best of Young British Novelists”, part of a promotion in Granta magazine.

Check out Louis de Bernieres’ website and a Sydney Morning Herald article about how this book and the subsequent movie came about.

Source: Roadshow