Brown Eyes REVIEWS

Revews from the Blog Tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources Feb 2022

Northern Reader
Brown Eyes by Frances Ive – a family dog sees family life from a different perspective
Posted on February 23, 2022by joulesbarham

Brown Eyes by Frances Ive
This unusual novel is told by two voices – a woman whose marriage is in trouble, and the Brown Eyes of the title – Benji, the family Labrador.

This dual view point gives a unique set of insights into a complex set of circumstances. Benji’s understanding of what is going on is not sophisticated, but once combined with Meriel’s account of her life over a few months it gives a picture of a separation, of friends and family, of the effects of one relationship breaking down. In some ways this is quite a simple book, written with a great deal of sensitivity and understanding of events, emotions and actions. In other respects it reflects quite a sophisticated reflection on the fall out from a potential breakup.

It is a typical suburban setting of family homes, walks in parks, and conversations at gatherings. Benji, as could be guessed, is concerned with walks, food and other dogs, but also observes the mysterious arguments, tense conversations and outbursts that go with intense emotions. He has favourite humans, and struggles to understand why they are behaving differently and being so angry with each other and occasionally with themselves. There is plenty of well written dialogue,

especially as Meriel consults her friends about the progress of her relationships. There are some realistic portraits of teenagers as well as adults, all in understandable and probably familiar settings. Altogether this is an enjoyable book that I was pleased to have had the opportunity to read and review.

The first chapter is headed with a phrase that really sums up the heart of the novel “Like a fly on the wall. From the inside out. The heart of the family. The only one to see it all.” Benji the dog realises that there is a problem and “My perfect life is under threat” as he hears Meriel and her husband Phil shouting and having a terrible row. In the aftermath Phil tells Benji something of what happened from his point of view. The second chapter begins with Meriel’s views, of how she is usually the person people tell their troubles to, people like Tania who is a good friend. Tania reveals something of her own troubled romantic life, with hints that her interests are no longer limited to her own husband. This format of story telling allows different insights into the same events and relationships, ranging from the simple recognition of prevailing emotions by Benji, to the complexity of Mariel’s feelings as her marriage is subject to pressures. There is tragedy to cope with as well as complex situations between people, with intervention from others.

This is a novel which achieves a lot in quite a short book. It looks at all the reactions to a situation which affects many people either directly or indirectly. It shows the ripple effect of one unfortunate event on a big group of people from the point of view of an observer who sees more than anyone expects. Benji’s role in all this confusion is largely unintentional, but he becomes the unwitting confidante of most people. This is a very relevant novel for contemporary times, and an unexpected retelling of a relatable story.

Jane Hunt,
My Thoughts…
Family life and relationships seen through the eyes of the family dog, Benji the Labrador, is a unique and insightful view of discord, friendship and marriage. Dual viewpoints from the dog and the woman whose marriage breaks down give the reader an emotional and intense idea of life within the family setting.

The dog’s viewpoint is an engaging mix of humour and poignancy, and anyone who has lived with a dog will recognise the behaviour. There is lots of detail in this story, but you empathise with the characters, especially Benji, and want them to work out their problems.

I liked the dog’s perspective best, but all the characters resonate. annie

My thoughts…
I thought the best way to share about this touching novella, narrated by both Benji and Meriel, is through the Author’s Foreword:

“Animals are sensitive creatures and pick up on the mood of the people they live with. It struck me when we had a Labrador how affected he was by what was going on around him. If there was an argument he hid under the table, if any of us was upset he looked unhappy, but of course when we were joyful, he loved it. That’s when I had the idea about a dog watching everyone in the family and seeing what was going on. This fictional story is written from two viewpoints, those of both Meriel, the main woman, and Benji the Labrador. It is not my story, but he was my dog.” Frances Ive

Stacey Hammond:
𝗠𝘆 𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄

Told in dual perspective by Meriel, the wife, and Benji, the families pet labrador.

I found this an interesting concept, as I’ve always wondered what our two dogs make of everything, and how they think.

A cleverly written, novella sized read, realistic, and to some relatable. With a unique take on a family drama, and an added dash of humour from Benji, I found this an enjoyable, likeable read.

Thought provoking, emotive, with a heartwarming ending.

This book is truly lovely, it pulls at the heartstrings, it’s beautiful and emotional.
I know that I had to review this book, the moment I set eyes on it, I felt a pull towards it – you know me anything to do with dogs in stories and I am there, especially when it shares the dog’s perspective on what’s going on and I wasn’t disappointed, it was absolutely beautiful. It’s a simple story of family breakdowns and heartache, a story that could be about any family out there.

Usually, I try and steer clear of these kinds of stories, I think there are enough families being torn apart in the world why would you wish to read about them too, but with it partly about the effects of what is happening in the household on the dog then I very eager to read it, and I wasn’t disappointed it’s sad and at the time a little melancholic but once we look through Benji’s brown eyes at his fractured family you feel compelled to keep reading, personally if it wasn’t for Benji then this book could have felt a little too intense for my liking.

Meriel is a woman who could be any one of us, he could be yourself, your sister, your neighbour or a best friend. She l has found herself in the position where everything she knew about her life, it’s not perfect, it’s monotonous and she is sensing a divide between her and Phil, her Husband she never expected what’s to come. Her marriage is fraying at the edges, she’s being the dutiful housewife and mother, keeping everything ticking along and she has found herself in a rut, she and Phil are drifted apart but it’s not until she founds out about his affair that she changes her stars chucks him out and tries to start afresh. This is easier said than done when her whole family has been torn apart and she doesn’t know how to put them all back together.

The most heart-breaking parts, the parts which crunch the heart into tiny pieces were those chapters told through the eyes of the dog. Benji has a simplistic view of life, his life revolves around his humans he understands them far better than they do themselves, it brought a tear or two to my eye when he is questioning what is going on in his family, he is confused and upset over how his favourite people in the world suddenly hate each other and start hurting each other. He doesn’t understand and he doesn’t like the tension, the arguments and the tears.

This story really hammers home just how special the relationship between owner and dog is, how to intune our canine friends are with our happiness and emotions.
This is a relatively short book, but it packs a punch. Told through the eyes of both Meriel and her loyal Labrador; Benji. It’s incredibly easy to read, it’s a little on the slow side at times, especially when the narrative came from Meriel but apart from that, this is such an enjoyable heartwarming.

This is all about family and life’s challenges, friendship and learning to forgive, it’s honest, emotional and relatable, a great read that has been hijacked by a big fluffy dog!

Book Tour Review: Brown Eyes by Frances Ive (@fivewrite)

I’ve always had a dog in my life. At times I’ve often wondered what they are thinking when they are watching their owners go through their lives. This book was like having that glimpse into what a dog is thinking when its owners are going through a difficult time in life. In the case of this book, a breakdown of marriage and figuring out whether trying to make it work is worth it or not.

Throughout this book, there are three perspectives that can be read. The majority is through Benji, the black labrador. The others through Meriel one of his owners and Jane the marriage counsellor. I just loved how the author wrote Benji perspective. Maybe my being a dog lover makes me biased but I found myself looking forward to reading his chapters. I liked how the author wrote about the breakdown of the marriage and the challenges that the characters faced. I didn’t see the ending coming but it was a lovely ending to read.

With thanks to the organiser of this book Tour @rachelsrandomresources for accepting me onto this tour

#Bookstagram #ukbookstagrammer #booktour #bookreview #bookreader #bookreviewerofinstagram #booksofinstagram #booksofig #browneyes #francesive #bookaholic #bibliophile #adogsperspective #rachelsrandomresources #tamisreadingcorner #readingforpleasure #readingcorner #booksanddogs


Benji is a black Labrador, and interestingly,also a narrator of this novella, which features a dog’s-eye view of the complications that can arise in seemingly perfect human lives.

Meriel, the main (human) protagonist, and the story’s second-provided POV, believes herself to be happily married. Until the day she is not. As her world crumbles around her, she must face her new reality, caring for her two teenage children, and reaching out to her closest friends for support, – including of course, her beautiful and much-loved lab Benji.

Clearly human troubles are puzzling, when one is a dog, and Benji, in response , does his (dare I say, doggedly) best to show his human friends the love that is in his heart for them, and his deepest desire for his family to be whole and happily spending time together again (with perhaps more than only an occasional walk on the beach?).

As the inevitable complications arise, it may or may not be possible for Meriel and her estranged husband Phil to find a way to put their troubles behind them.

Life could be so much simpler, it seems, if along with our furry friends, like Benji, we could all simply relax and revel in a every moment as one of “calm, and a feeling that there was love all around us”.

My stop on the @rachelsrandomresources #BrownEyes #blogtour

Thank you to the author and the publisher for an ARC of this book.All thoughts presented are my own.

#bookreview #bookstagram
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Tizi’s Book Review
‘Brown Eyes’ written by Frances Ive #BookReview @healthysouluk 

A family doesn’t only consist of the people in out, but the pets too!

An unexpected call means the end of the marriage of Meriel and Phil. Hearing Phil having ‘fun’ with another woman, makes sure that Meriel’s world is falling apart.
Not only is there the loss of her marriage, but also having two teenage children in a mood doesn’t help things, add a friend’s own trouble and it’s obvious that Meriel doesn’t know what to do… And then a great loss makes her put things back in perspective… or not?

Luckily she can always count on the family Labrador Benji, that understands each family member’s feelings better than they think. And Benji is also struggling with the changing dynamics, while his own greatest wish is to have his family back together like before…

I have to say, reading a book through a dog’s perspective was something very new for me. And it was also very refreshing!

It shows us that pets, not only dogs, can understand human feelings, perhaps even better than ourselves!

And it was very cute to see how Benji is trying to there for each member and trying to hold his family together.

• On the other hand we are also reading Meriel’s perspective, and that shows us a truly heart – broking woman, hurt, dubious over each decision she has to make and also facing other difficult moments in her life.

Even if somehow I could understand her hut and doubts, I found it also frustrating, purely as a reader, how she couldn’t stick to her decision… One moment she wants to give her husband a chance, then she doesn’t anymore. She starts to see another man, but gets angry when Phil officially dates the ‘other woman’.

I just kept thinking that she can’t have the cake and eat it too!
• But also on the other direction I found it frustrating, Phil wants to save his marriage but at the first setback, he kind of just gives up…

Despite being described as a novella, there is a lot going on. The marriage falling apart is the start of everything, but the list only gets bigger and bigger.
And seeing not only people trying to get a hold on things, but also that lovely Labrador, was not only very realistic, but also gave us insights in how everybody copes with unexpected twists in their lives.

Maybe there were a bit too many twists, but that also is life, sometimes you don’t know what else is lurking around the corner.

A family life doesn’t always goes straightforward, and you have to work with what you have, and always be honest to yourself too. When is something worth the fight and when is something truly insurmountable?

And this book shows perfectly how difficult the right decision can be, and how one decision affects all the lives of your loved ones, furred or not…

A novella that gives us a unique insight into how the family dog, Benji, the labrador, sees family life and relationships. I enjoyed reading this story, which is told from two viewpoints, Benji and the woman whose marriage is falling apart. These two narrators together create an emotional view of family life and all that is a part of it.

To say I wasn’t sure about reading this book is a fair statement to make. As I began reading, I found Benji and his viewpoint so engaging. Maybe because I am a dog owner, I may be a little biased. I looked forward to his chapters more and more as the story unfolded.

Frances Ive has depicted family life and the issues that come with it in a poignant way through Benji’s eyes. There is also humour, too, which made me smile too. The characters, including Benji, made me feel for them. I have to say I loved Benji’s view the best, but I empathised with Meriel on various levels as she faced challenges in her life.

A book that I doubted at the start but made me fall in love with yet another dog! I surprised myself with how much I wanted to know how everything was going to work out for everyone, including Benji. A great short read.

BROWN EYES: A watchful eye as a marriage falls apart. The phone call, the rows, and the split are all observed by the family Labrador. He knows the habits and senses the moods of his beloved family members. Seeing them unhappy and hurting each other is unbearable. Where did his perfect life go?

Her marriage to Phil in crisis, two children at the challenging teenage stage, and a close friend in peril, Meriel’s world is falling apart. She finds solace in the arms of another man, but is this the answer for her? It is her stubbornness that threatens the family’s future together, until a major loss has a life-changing effect on her. A sliver of hope returns.

Like a fly on the wall, Benji the dog sees it all.

Narrated by both the dog and Meriel, Brown Eyes is a novella (a short read) written by the author of Finding Jo.

The majority of this emotionally charged, character driven story is written from the duel perspectives of Meriel and the family Labrador called Benji.

Meriel had often prided herself on being a good listener, she had spent many hours listening to her friends problems whilst privately contemplating the fact that her own life was so simple whereas everyone around her appeared to lead such complicated lives. But then she received the phone call that took her own apparently perfect life, shattered it into tiny pieces and scattered them across the floor like shards of broken glass.

It transpired that Phil,her husband of twenty years had been cheating on her and she reacted in the exact same way that I would have done if I had found myself in the same situation. She confronted Phil and told him that their marriage was over, after all, if a partner cheats once and are forgiven then isn’t that just giving them a green light to keep on repeating the same behaviour in the future?

Meriel found herself caught up in a raging storm of emotions, her feelings swirling around inside her head like the crashing waves breaking on the shore of the beach that was situated near the family home. Meriel was a complex character with a relatable backstory who I couldn’t help emphasising with as the story unfolded. I personally didn’t like the reactions or attitudes of the other characters who inhabited her world or the way that she was made to feel about her, what was to me anyway, perfectly understandable and acceptable decision.

I loved Benji’s parts of the story in which he gave the reader his own unique observations of the events that were unfolding around him. His thoughts and fears about the apparent disintegration of his beloved family and struggles to try to keep everyone happy. I have often looked at our own dog and wondered what he was thinking and I thought that seeing the world from Benji’s perspective was a unique and fascinating experience.

This is a well written, captivating domestic drama with a plot which covers a number of relatable issues including infidelity, parenting, friendships, grief, relationships and depression. To be honest, I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this story due it being a genre that I don’t usually read. I did enjoy reading it and would gladly recommend Meriel and Benji’s story to other readers.

Meriel is a 46-year-old woman married to Phil, they live with their teenage kids Elly and Ricky and their pet dog Benji. The book is written from two viewpoints – Meriel’s and Benji’s (yes, the Labrador).

This is a novella so it is a quick read, though it has lots of emotions in there, as we see Meriel and Phil’s marriage collapse and how that develops when they go to see a counsellor. We also follow the fortunes of Meriel’s best friends Tania and Cathy.
The unusual thing about this novella is seeing things from a dog’s perspective and for me, this was my favourite part as Benji comes out with some really cute things and I felt these were really different and interesting. The story itself is a fairly common one of a marriage breakdown, but using the family’s dog to give its view gave it a fresh take.

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Instagram: jacleomik33

BROWN EYES was a quick read for me and also an interesting one. It was quite different to get the point of view from a black Labrador! It’s an emotional read with grief and grief. But Benji’s point of view gave the story some humor and I really enjoyed seeing it from his point of view! Overall it was a likeable and enjoyable read and such an enjoyable ending! I really didn’t see that coming!