Don’t Defend Animals, not in France, not anywhere…

By Guénady. Trafford Publishing. 2008

ISBN 978 – 1 – 4251 – 7099 – 8

Guénady was a dog who once lived and suffered in Nice, now the pseudonym of her guardian, the American owner of the Speakeasy – the only vegan restaurant in France. I had the pleasure of meeting the author and eating in her little restaurant during my last visit to Nice in 2004 – one of my favourite French cities, though one of which I now know much more, thanks to this interesting book.

Don’t Defend Animals… is not easy to categorise – loosely based on a true incident which occurred in France in 2002, part mystery story and part sociological study, Guénady’s book also gives us an insight into her cooking, with a few of the Speakeasy recipes – pâté vegetal, miso soup, quinoa and leek casserole – and food tips. We get to know Ralph, Mamoune and Missy, her companion dogs, and how much they contribute to her life.

The gruesome death of an animal rights campaigner, a disappearance, a rudderless campaigning group, local political corruption and, on the part of the authorities, a wilful insistence on turning a blind eye to cruelty and neglect, all play their parts in this very readable book.

Apart from the obvious villains, we are aware of more controversial issues – conflict among animal rights campaigners, a disturbing sense of suspicion and distrust – on whom can one rely? – vets whose procedures are at best dubious and at worst, malign, the exposition of arguments against animal shelters and microchipping, whether it is justifiable to spend much money on saving one animal in distress, when there are so many others who might benefit from those limited resources.

The informed reader will recognise real life characters, thinly disguised, all of which adds piquancy to the book.

“I have to find a way to be heard!” concludes Guénady. This is her way of attempting to understand the mystery, continue her investigations and uncover the murderer. But it is more than that – it is a useful insight into what we all, to a greater or lesser extent, are up against, when we undertake this struggle to defend our fellow, suffering, species.

~ Marian.