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My Family's Love Affair with Thirty-Eight Dalmatians

List Price: $15.95

October 13, 2015 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 288 Pages | ISBN 9781619025806
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“Animal lovers will adore this emotional and touching story.” —Real Simple

The Sexton family’s long love affair with the Dalmatian began in Linda’s childhood. There, on a snowy morning in the family home just outside Boston, Linda heard a whimpering coming from the basement. She discovered their first family dog giving birth to a litter. Witnessing the intimate act of birth had a profound effect on the family. Her mother, Anne, used the experience to complete the poem “Live,” part of her third collection, titled Live or Die , which would be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. For Linda, the boundless joy of both breed and breeding triggered in her a lifelong love of Dalmatians. All told, thirty-eight Dalmatians will move through her life: the ones that cheer and support her through difficulty, divorce, and depression; the ones that stay with her as she enters the world of professional breeding and showing of Dals; and, of course, the one true dog of her heart, Gulliver, her most stalwart of canine champions.

Bespotted is a page-turning and compelling look at the unique place dogs occupy in our lives. It captures another piece of this literary family’s history, taps into the curious and fascinating world of dog showing/dog fancy.

LINDA GRAY SEXTON is the daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Anne Sexton. She has written four novels and two memoirs, Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide and Searching for Mercy Street, both published by Counterpoint. She lives in Redwood City, California. Please visit to learn more about Linda’s books.


“Animal lovers will adore this emotional and touching story.” —Real Simple

“Linda Gray Sexton has added a moving and beautiful account to the shelf of books about Dogs & Their Writers…. It must have been extremely painful to write some of these passages; to experience and re-experience the shock and the grief of the untimely and unfair endings, the vicissitudes of biology, the love that’s given and received in equal measure — here exquisitely re-imagined — between a keeper and each of her dogs.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“[An] engaging memoir.” —San Jose Mercury News 

“…overall this memoir is well written and sincere.” —Library Journal

“[T]his is not only a dog book but also a very well-written dog book…. The inside look at the rarefied environment of dog shows is a fascinating subplot; and the decisions that must be made as well as the mechanics of breeding for show dogs will be eye-opening for many dog lovers. Sexton’s paeon to dalmatians, the dogs she feels have genuinely saved her life, will resonate.” —Booklist

“As the author eloquently portrays, no other breed suited the Sexton family as well…. Her devotion to her dogs is evident… The bond between an animal and a human can be extremely strong, and Sexton proves this without a doubt. A heartfelt testimony about the importance of dogs, especially Dalmatians, in one woman’s life.” —Kirkus

Bespotted is a delight and a book of wisdom for all those who love dogs and people.” —Erica Jong, bestselling author of Fear of Flying

“In Bespotted, Linda Gray Sexton slices to the heart of why the dogs in our lives are so beloved. Each Dalmatian who walks onto the page is a character in his or her own right. Bespotted is a love story, an intriguing glimpse into the world of show dogs, and a testament to the special provenance of dogs to guide humans through the darkest moments in our lives. Beautifully written and deeply felt.” —Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of Golden State and The Year of Fog

Bespotted is a brave and wonderful book. The first chapter about the origin of the famous poem by Anne Sexton, “Live,” is precious both for the history it recounts with an authenticity nobody else could claim, as well as for its insight into one of the great poems of the language (hint:  it is a poem made possible by dogs).  Even more importantly it recognizes something that is only now becoming clear:  dogs and humans are a single species, a manifestation of a single love, and this book makes that clear in a rare way.” —Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, bestselling author of When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie About Love.

“Dog lovers, rejoice! Linda Sexton turns her literary attention to the beloved Dalamations in her life. Bespotted is part memoir, part love song to dogs, all wonderful.” —Ellen Sussman, New York Times bestselling author of A Wedding in Provence and French Lessons

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