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Mad Dash


Mad Dash

Bender, one of the characters in Patricia Gaffney’s MAD DASH,
sums it up when she asks the heroine, Dash Bateman, how many years
she’s been married. Dash answers, “Almost twenty
years,” and Mrs. Bender replies, “Oh, yes, well,
that’s when it starts to get pretty serious, isn’t

Told first through the voice of Dash, and then from her husband
Andrew’s point of view, this is a story about a marriage that
unravels for a time. It is not one of the “big issues”
of life that begins the derailing, but a small one. One evening, as
Dash and Andrew return home, they find a dog on their doorstep. Is
she alive? As they work together to call the vet and revitalize the
puppy, the incident takes on a different tone. Dash, who is tired
of loss and giving things up, wants to keep the puppy. After losing
her mother six months earlier and then sending their daughter off
to college, Dash is ready to embrace this new pet. Andrew, however,
wishes to give the dog away.

Dash, who has a good career as a portrait photographer, walks out
over the disagreement and goes to her photography studio. This act
of leaving starts a chain reaction for the couple. Dash decides to
move down to their cabin in Virginia. While sorting herself out,
she spends time with Cottie and Shevlin Bender. Shevlin is the
handyman who the Batemans have hired to help maintain the cabin.
Cottie and Shevlin have been married for 40 years, and Cottie has
just come through heart surgery. The two women talk about life, and
Dash hears how love and marriage has worked for them.

Andrew’s world is also full of challenges. An Associate
Professor of History at Mason-Dixon College, he is offered an
opportunity to move up in his career. Full professorship and
consideration as the next department chair are his, if he will
contribute a chapter to another professor’s book. He has
already disappointed his father by choosing to become a teacher
instead of a lawyer. As Andrew faces his father’s aging and
ailing health, he learns about his dad’s lost dreams. Will he
take the necessary steps? Does he even want to do this?

Gaffney’s portrayal of Dash and Andrew provides readers with
the integral sounds, personal gestures and small words of a
relationship. We are given an intimate view from both perspectives
as they experience moments of annoyance, sadness and laughter. This
story resonates for anyone who has been in a long-term
relationship, through all the ups and downs.

The author’s trademark humor is exemplary in MAD DASH. Her
ability to write opposing points of view over the same relationship
creates empathy for both characters and is brilliantly

Reviewed by Jennifer McCord on January 7, 2011

Mad Dash
by Patricia Gaffney

  • Publication Date: August 5, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press
  • ISBN-10: 0307382125
  • ISBN-13: 9780307382122