In the Shadow of Mercury. A Memoir of Mid-Life and Dogs (Melanie Coronetz)


Title: In the Shadow of Mercury. A Memoir of Mid-Life and Dogs

Published: August 15, 2008, by Xlibris

Softcover: ISBN 978-1-4363-5674-9, 165 pages

Softcover: $19.99 at and


The Author with Her Dogs

In the Shadow of Mercury explores how one woman’s search for identity in middle age brought her into the show ring at Madison Square Garden. After trying and discarding a series of possible careers, the author settles in with a Schipperke she names Mercury. On the advice of friends, she then attempts to show him.

This book traces her missteps as she tries to learn the ins and outs of the purebred dog world. Meanwhile, her marriage slumps towards indifference, and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show looms. What happens with Mercury and the subsequent dogs in the author’s life makes this memoir a lively and touching read for dog lovers and anybody else interested in a good story that has been described by one reader as an amazing roller coaster ride.
Melanie Coronetz grew up with pet dogs. She stumbled into the world of showing by accident, as she approached middle-age. Throughout her life, she’s had a variety of careers, some satisfying, some not. A native New Yorker, she lives in New York City with her husband and their three dogs.
Book Review:
By Richard Pulfer in the Rockford Review, Winter-Spring 2009: “Absolute Must for Memoirists …”
Distance is one of the most crucial elements in writing non-fiction memoirs. Is the writer too close to the event and its implications, or too far away? Luckily, Melanie Coronetz puts her perspective squarely on focus to the impact of dog owning in a story of fresh dreams and new beginnings in mid-life.

Struggling to find her calling in life, Coronetz finds her relationship with her husband slowly deteriorating after his struggle with cancer. This relationship is further strained by several failed endeavors before Coronetz settles on something seemingly left field—purebred dog showing. Falling for a new Schipperke pet named Mercury, Coronetz flies through the dog showing industry by the seat of her pants.

Coronetz has certainly mastered the art of the hook. In a turn of a few words and a few paragraphs, she’s able to hook the reader into emotional investments. I didn’t think a story of dog-showing at mid-life would be such a rapid page-turner, but clearly I was wrong. Coronetz’s passages are exciting and breathtaking, with experience ranging from uplift to heartbreaking, making this book any dog owner’s dream come true.

The book’s failing is that the story of the dogs seems to overshadow the story of Coronetz. In particular, Coronetz’s relationship with her husband seems pushed too far into the background. This is one of the biggest elements of the book, but we really don’t hear enough about either the low points or the turning points.

Coronetz’s book is a powerful read for pet owners and mid-lifers alike. Coronetz succeeds in making the narrative suspenseful, and the outcome never realized until the very end. In the Shadow of Mercury is an absolute must for memoirists.
In 1984, on my fortieth birthday, my husband, Bruce, took a picture of me in our living room. I was wearing a silver unitard, and the camera flash made it glint like polished steel. I made a copy of that photo and sent it to my brother in Seattle. I wanted him to see his older sis looking as sleek and shiny as a barracuda, just like the one he saw up close on one of his scuba diving trips to warm waters. Maybe prancing around the living room in that stretchy jumpsuit was a sign that ordinary middle age wasn’t for me. I’d soon quit my job, try new careers, and follow a path that eventually led to a little black dog I’d name Mercury.