Jonathan Unleashed Review: A farcically funny New York romantic comedy novel by Meg Rosoff – think Must Love Dogs meets Devil Wears Prada.
Jonathan Unleashed Synopsis
Jonathan Trefoil’s boss is unhinged, his relationship baffling and his apartment just the wrong side of legal. His girlfriend wants to marry someone just like him – only richer and more organised with a different sense of humour.
On the plus side, his two flatmates are determined to fix his life – or possibly to destroy it altogether. It’s difficult to be certain as they only speak dog.
Poor Jonathan. He doesn’t remember life being this confusing back in the good old days before everyone expected him to act like a person. But one thing he knows for sure: if he can make it in New York City, he can make it anywhere.
Will he get out of advertising, meet the girl of his dreams and figure out the gender of his secret crush?
Given how it’s going so far, probably not.
Genre: Romance, Humour, Drama, Chicklit
One of our Top 10 International Reads of 2016
Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.
If you are a dog lover, and are inclined not to take yourself (or the human species in general) too seriously, then Meg Rosoff’s Jonathan Unleashed is the perfect novel for you.
James (typically, it had to be said) had understated the nature of the task. He never once mentioned the Byzantine quality of his dogs’ inner lives, the practical and spiritual difficulties of caring for other sentient beings, the intense and constant scrutiny to which Jonathan was now subject.
The true stars in this farcically funny New York romantic comedy are Dante and Sissy (border collie and spaniel), touchingly drawn as the only ones who really know what’s going on at any given moment. Or at least it seems that way set against the exaggerated stereotypes cast for comical effect in the supporting human roles…. think Must Love Dogs meets Devil Wears Prada.
Rosoff’s lead (or should I say pawn) Jonathan is having an existential crisis in the pitch perfect environment for that… a hipster New York advertising agency, aptly named Comrade. That’s just a taste of the cleverness and spiky (and I dare say cathartic) writing this book is filled with, almost to bursting point.
In an interview with The Independent, Rosoff explains:
Humour is nature’s balm. I had a vague sense that the world was getting so depressing that it needed a comedy. Jonathan Unleashed, my new book, is a comedy about the advertising industry. I waited 12 years to write about the advertising industry because I was still so enraged by my career in it. But I’ve now managed to compost it all down into something funny. You cannot write a book while enraged. It doesn’t work.
While not without its weaknesses (fine line, and a matter of personal taste, between comedic farce and fishing too long from the same pond), in this novel Rosoff unleashes her sparkling talent for lampooning the inferior species (humans).
Louise was infinitely enthusiastic and not at all unattractive, but she had a broken wind-up toy for a brain, a passion for triple-speak and the imagination of a sink plug, something Broadway Depot did not sell.
Meg Rosoff’s Jonathan Unleashed is a great weekend read – sweet, light-hearted and highly entertaining.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
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About the Author, Meg Rosoff
Meg Rosoff grew up in a suburb of Boston and moved to London in 1989. She spent fifteen years working in advertising before writing her first YA novel, How I Live Now, which has sold over one million copies in thirty-six territories. It won the Guardian Children’s Prize and the Printz Award in the US and was made into a film. Her subsequent five novels have been awarded or shortlisted for, among others, the Carnegie Medal and the National Book Award. She lives in London with her husband, the painter Paul Hamlyn, their daughter and their dogs.
- Meg Rosoff has won the world’s largest cash prize for children’s literature, the Astrid Lindgren memorial award, honouring the entire body of an author’s work (Guardian)
- Meg Rosoff on five of the best literary dogs (Telegraph)
* My receiving a free copy of Jonathan Unleashed at a Brisbane Writers Festival event did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.