Esther Hammerhans is a young, gentle widower trying to rent out a room in her home. When Mr. Chartwell arrives to inquire after the room, he is much different than Esther expected; a massive black talking dog. Esther learns that Mr. Chartwell has business in the area, which we soon find out is with Winston Churchill while he retires from the government after his many years of service.
For those aware of famous Churchill quotes (I was not before I started this book), Churchill called his depression a "black dog". Mr. Chartwell is exactly that to Churchill and he starts to work his charms on Esther as well.
There is light, entertaining dialogue throughout the novel to balance the serious, negative subject matter. These conversations are held between Esther's friends, characters that I would have liked to see developed a bit more as they play a pivotal role in Esther's bout with depression.
Using an actual character, one that is a dog no less, to represent depression is very unique and quite creative. I was slow on the uptake though, because it took me about 75 pages to figure out what was going on. This was partially due to the fact that I never know Churchill called his depression a "black dog", but it didn't set me off on the right foot with the book. When I finally understood what Hunt was doing, I appreciated what she was getting at but felt like I had missed out not understanding that from the start of the novel.
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First Line: "Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill's mouth was pursed as if he had a slice of lemon hidden in there."