I hadn’t planned on it being the first of my 111 books, it had no significance in any way, no recommendations to go with it, no associated history, but it’s a book I’ll never forget – as the first of my 111 books in the year 2011.
Caroline: A Mystery sat in a box of books at my former workplace. Added to the pile by the books editor – it obviously hadn’t made the list and was in need of a good home. Its simple, artistic cover caught my eye and although the back didn’t give much away, I understood the story was about a man, who fell in love with a donkey. I’d added it to my bag of collectibles, taken it home, and placed it onto the pile of books, slowly gathering dust. I’d get around to reading it one day.
That day came around sooner rather than later – in fact, it was the 1st of January 2011, when I curled up on the couch and began to read.
Caroline is a donkey who captures the heart of a man on holiday with his family. A man of routine, as the child narrator explains. He goes to work each day and returns each evening at the same time. The preparation for the annual family vacation is meticulous, yet chaotic, planned but last minute. And after a relaxing family holiday, the man returns to his routine. Only this year, he returns with a donkey. A donkey who takes her place in the back yard, then in the workplace, and finally in the hearts of her owner’s family. He learns to plays chess, and befriends the neighbours. Sound a bit far-fetched? Possibly, but it’s a sweet story of companionship and heartache, a story of two souls, a patient wife, and an understanding boss. But most of all, it’s a story about Caroline – and a story, that remains a mystery to me!