Title: Gizelle’s Bucket List: My Life with a Very Large Dog
Author: Lauren Fern Watt
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Non-fiction, Autobiography, Animals
Book format: Paperback
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Description:  Gizelle, a big beautiful English mastiff, had always been there for Lauren during the most important times of her life.
She was there through the choppy waters of her first relationship, and the painful reality of her mother’s alcoholism.  So when the news came that Gizelle had a life-threatening tumour, Lauren designed an epic bucket list to make the most out of the time they had left.  Their final heartwarming adventure would change her life forever.

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  This book is so amazing I read it all in just one day! Gizelle is a beautiful brindle coloured English Mastiff puppy who Lauren gets when she’s nineteen years old. She instantly becomes Lauren’s best friend and a part of her life and is there for Lauren at every moment. But when a terrible diagnosis threatens to end their friendship earlier than planned, Lauren decides to create a bucket list, to make the most of the time they have left together.

I knew this book would be both heartwarming and also very sad but I really wanted to read it as I love a good animal tale. From the first pages I was hooked, the easy to read style as Lauren recounts how she first got Gizelle made it so easy to get right into the story. I enjoyed getting to know Gizelle and the situation with Lauren’s family and the way that Gizelle wasn’t exactly expected by some members of her family but, like with most animals, they couldn’t help but grow to love her.

The book is split into two parts, the first being the larger section and all about Gizelle before her diagnosis with part two being the adventures on Gizelle’s bucket list. There isn’t a moment I’m not drawn to Lauren’s tale with her dog and although much of it is about her own experiences in life, moving to a new city, meeting new people, etc., Gizelle is always a part of them making this story very much about that big dog. I love the humour in this book too, there were funny moments throughout like the poo incidents in the city and I just loved the story of the soccer goal post which had me laughing aloud so much. I felt like I was there in that moment and could see the look on Gizelle’s face, the book is so well written.

The whole book has a lovely heartwarming feel to it and even when Gizelle’s diagnosis is made, despite the sadness, the bucket list moments just make you smile, especially when you read how close Gizelle and Lauren are. The ending of the book did make me sad and I did cry. I don’t think anyone would expect the ending to be any different other than so sad, but at the same time I loved the way this book finished and the epilogue afterwards felt like a lovely conclusion to the whole story.

Gizelle's Bucket List book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

There are pictures throughout the paperback. They appear at the start of every chapter and all feature Gizelle in one way or another. I have to say that in the paperback version all of these photos appear in black and white and although a few of the lighter coloured images are easy to see it’s such a shame as many of the pictures are very dark and make seeing Gizelle difficult, all the more so as she’s a dark brindle coloured dog rather than a lighter coloured dog. I think for the paperback version it’s a shame that the photos aren’t on some glossy paper or been specifically brightened so they show up easier. However you can still see Gizelle in each picture and I love all these images, especially the ones in chapter fourteen.  There is some swearing in the book, occasional use of the s and f words but nothing else to be considered offensive.

Despite the dark pictures this is still a beautiful book and one I want to read again. It’s an inevitably sad tale but one that is so lovely and heartwarming that anyone who loves animals and the special bond they can have with us humans would love to read this story.

-Review first appeared online February 2018 – now republished here.

Do you enjoy biographies or books about animals?  What is your favourite animal?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂