29 March 2014

Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning, Book review

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Beltor (January 29, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0578136394
  • Also available in KINDLE format


An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.
Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to hold on to her foolish dream. She sells off all the dogs in her once famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and his mischievous, handsome son Breaker. Part of her senses they might have been the ones to take her to Westminster, if only she’d dared to try.
Bess meets Benny, a teenager with mild autism who attends a therapeutic special school, and learns he has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. Benny is drawn into the world of dog shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to win his mother’s attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or Breaker, he just knows she will finally be proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy. ..

Note to Readers: Up to 100% of the author’s profits will be donated to charities serving animals and children. 

My  thoughts:

We have all read wonderful stories about children and their four legged friends but this book comes right at the top of the list with its touching story of a retired dog breeder, McCreery and Breaker the Standard Poodles and a young boy named Benny!

The novel caught my attention immediately with its sweet cover and its mention of Autism. The first would melt anyone's heart of course, the second is a reminder of a disorder characterized in various degrees by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non verbal communication and repetitive behaviour. As a Child psychoanalyst, I imagine Diane Daniels Manning has seen her share of such young patients. 

At first glance Beth Rutledge and Benny might have little in common but for one item: both love dogs. At 70 years of age, Beth has bred and trained champions for decades yet for some reason has never made it to the most coveted of shows: Westminster!

Benny is a bright young man challenged with mild Autism, a condition that has him full of energy and often anxious, his attention span limited and wishing with all his heart for a canine friend. One look at Beth's champion McCreery and he knows this is 'The' Dog. 

In 'Almost Perfect' the author's refreshing plot line describes the emotional tight line involved in showing dogs and the challenges someone like Benny faces everyday. Her characters are endearing and certain to pull at your heart strings!

It did not not take long to realize Diane knows well her subject (make that a plural as she certainly showed knowledge of both show dogs and children!) and created the most congenial of novels, that of people slightly imperfect, each reluctant to open their heart without some reservations but with a connection born out of love for that most irresistible fur friend: the dog!
'Almost Perfect' was...perfect to the last word! 

5 Stars!

Meet the Author:

Diane Daniels Manning — Educator & Author (Showdogs, Westminster Kennel Club, Poodle Club of America)

Diane Daniels Manning was raised in Redding, Connecticut, the setting for her novel ALMOST PERFECT. As a youngster, she rode her bike up and down former cow paths to the Mark Twain Library where she plundered the children's shelves and fantasized she'd grow up to a famous writer like Samuel Clemens.

Inevitably she was educated, taught English and reading in Connecticut, and earned a Ph.D. in Education and a post-doctoral M.P.H. from Harvard. She climbed the tenure ladder and served as Director of the Reading and Learning Disabilities at Tufts University. There she became convinced that special needs children are best helped when equal attention is paid to their emotional and their academic lives. Her Standard Poodle, Bel Tor Mandy, accompanied her to work daily and taught her the therapeutic benefit of animals.

Following an appointment at Harvard School of Public Health, she moved to New Orleans where she served as Chair of the Department of Education at Tulane and became certified as a child and adult psychoanalyst by the American Psychoanalytic Association. 

In 2005, she moved to Houston and co-founded The New School in the Heights (www.newschoolheights.org) , a therapeutic school for bright children with social and emotional challenges. She continues to serve as Executive Director. 100% of book profits will be donated to charities serving children and dogs. See www.almostperfectnovel.com for details on how your charity can participate.

Diane's writing awards include the Faulkner-Wisdom Novella Prize and a Women in Film and Television Short Script Competition. She learned the workings of dog show kennels by writing an authorized oral history of a past President of the Poodle Club of America. When not at The New School in the Heights, she and her writing partners, a Standard Poodle named Misty.

(Source Amazon)

Visit Diane's website (HERE)

Note to Readers: World Autism Awareness Day is 2 April 2014 and throughout the month of April!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author as part of this book promotion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 


  1. That sounds so good and you wrote such an interesting review! I hope you're having a nice weekend! Sweet hugs, Diane

  2. Thanks Diane and have a nice weekend as well!
    Enjoy that beautiful sunshine you must be having in Florida!


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