Top Ten Tuesday: Books with animals in the title

This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is “Books with animals in the title and/or covers with animals on them”.

I’ve read lots of books with animals in the title – the only problem was deciding on ten of them!

Here’s my list:

1. The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart – I always enjoy Mary Stewart’s novels and I found this one, set in Syria and Lebanon, a particularly fascinating story. The ‘hounds’ of the title are owned by our narrator’s Great-Aunt Harriet who lives near Beirut and models herself on the real-life adventurer Lady Hester Stanhope.

2. Frog Music by Emma Donoghue – I’ve read several of Donoghue’s novels now and have found each one very different from the one before. This one takes place in 1870s San Francisco and features a nightclub dancer, a trapeze artist and a woman who catches frogs to sell to restaurants. The plot is based on a true story of an unsolved murder.

3. The Viper of Milan by Marjorie Bowen – Published in 1906, this was the first novel by the very prolific Marjorie Bowen and is set in 14th century Italy, following the rivalry between the Duke of Milan and the Duke of Verona. I was surprised to find that it was one of Graham Greene’s favourite books and influenced his own early work.

4. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson – The fourth book in Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie mystery series. I’ve read all of them but this one, which moves back and forth between a murder case in the 1970s and a modern day attempt to trace the origins of an adopted child, is not one of my favourites. Like the others in the series, I found that the crime element takes second place to the personal storylines of the characters.

5. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie – A standalone Christie with neither Poirot nor Miss Marple, although another of her recurring characters, the crime writer Ariadne Oliver, does make an appearance. With a plot involving three women believed to be witches, this is an atmospheric and unsettling novel with a real sense of evil and a hint of the supernatural. It’s not one of my top few Christies but I did enjoy it.

6. Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively – The first and only one of Lively’s adult novels I’ve read, although I did read several of her children’s books when I was younger. The story unfolds through a series of memories and episodes which combine to form a portrait of our protagonist, Claudia. I found the book fragmented and confusing, but liked it overall, particularly the vivid descriptions of Claudia’s time in Egypt as a war correspondent.

7. Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger – A classic historical adventure novel published in 1947. Set in Renaissance Italy, it’s the story of Andrea Orsini, who is given the task of negotiating a marriage between Alfonso d’Este and Lucrezia Borgia. I described it in my review as involving “battles, duels, clever disguises, last-minute escapes, sieges, miracles and all sorts of trickery and deception”. I loved it, but still haven’t read any of Shellabarger’s other books.

8. A Marriage of Lions by Elizabeth Chadwick – This book, by one of my favourite authors of medieval historical fiction, tells the story of Joanna de Munchensy of Swanscombe and her marriage to William de Valence, the younger half-brother of Henry III. Set against the backdrop of the Second Barons’ War and the conflict between the King and Simon de Montfort, this is a fascinating read with a focus on two lesser known historical figures.

9. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley – This is the eighth book in Bradley’s mystery series starring child detective Flavia de Luce. Despite the young heroine, these are not really ‘children’s books’ and Bradley has said they were originally intended for adults. This adult reader has certainly found that they have a lot to offer!

10. Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh – This book is set in Kenya in the 1950s and is surprisingly dark, which you might not have guessed from the cover. That’s because it deals with the Mau Mau Uprising of 1952, during which the Mau Mau people began to rebel against British rule, with lots of ensuing violence and brutality. It’s an interesting and balanced novel and I learned a lot from it.


Have you read any of these? Which other books with animals in the title can you think of?

28 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books with animals in the title

  1. Margaret Quiett says:

    Here’s a few more:
    The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
    Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
    The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
    Rabbit, Run by John Updike
    Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
    Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban (a great favorite of mine!)

  2. Joanne says:

    I’ve only read the Kate Atkinson book. I love the Jackson Brodie books. One was filmed on the beach near me and Jason Isaacs was in one of the local coffee shops!

    • Helen says:

      That’s exciting that a series you love was being filmed near you! I’ve enjoyed all of the Jackson Brodie books but I think the earlier ones were my favourites.

  3. Julé Cunningham says:

    Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books is a series I’ve enjoyed so much, she is a wonderful character. And you’ve reminded me that I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Chadwick when young, I should pick up another of her books.

    • Helen says:

      I found Moon Tiger quite a challenging book to read, but it was worth it and I will be trying more of Penelope Lively’s adult books eventually.

  4. Lark says:

    You know I’m a fan of both Mary Stewart and Agatha Christie. I love that you found so many different kinds of animals in these titles. Very fun choices. 😀

  5. Calmgrove says:

    Heh, just this year I’ve read three books with animals in the title (Dogsbody, Dewi the Dragon, A Can of Worms) and in the previous six months Cat’s Cradle, Borges and the Eternal Orang-Utans, The Horse and His Boy and The Velveteen Rabbit! On your list the Atkinson is nearing the top of my notional TBR pile – I’ve quite enjoyed her standalone titles though.

    • Helen says:

      I was surprised to find how many books with animal titles I’d read, although I haven’t read any of yours apart from The Horse and His Boy. I prefer Atkinson’s standalones, but the Jackson Brodie series is definitely worth reading as well.

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