This is going to be a book that will divide the crowds. Love it or left untouched by it? Want to return to it indefinitely to linger over passages, or happy to put it down with a heartfelt sigh and the impression that you’d somehow missed the point?
Sadly, and with great regret, I fall into the latter camp. I did long to love this feline-entitled book. Was convinced I would concur with the Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller list as the slim novel lithely scaled the New York Times top selling ladder and reached dizzy heights, receiving countless sparkling reviews. The tiny book was also a hit for last year’s Christmas stocking and hit the spot, according to a Waterstones’ manager, because of its size: “It’s such an easy book to sell…In a time of social media, which has narrowed people’s attention spans, short is good”. A sign of the times, truly.
So having duly read my copy cover to cover in one sitting one weekend recently (so much for going to the cinema, mind you it was pouring down pretty well the entire time huh so was a joy to be curled up with a book and our own purring and truly resident puss cat indoors), am wondering how I have managed to be left feeling unmoved and dispassionate about it all? Have I missed a trick here?
Yes, I did enjoy the antics of the meandering cat who brings this rather sterile couple closer together through her playful antics and determined independence, yet who is never really theirs to lay a claim to; yes, could see the parallels with the home that wasn’t theirs to keep either, and to the interrelating with the neighbours and the old lady who owns the home yet who is sadly destined to sell it, and indeed absolutely concur that there is much poetical lyricism in the writing, which is also very much a barometer of its economic times. I also enjoyed the scenes watching the cat cavort outside, as it were, and could sense the idea of ‘mindfulness’ and the notion of enjoying the moment.
But try as we might, and maybe have fallen hopelessly short because of cultural failings, Lily and I ended up not sharing some reviewers’ enthusiastic descriptions of a book they find beguiling, captivating, entrancing, etc. There is a hint of mystery at the very, very end, so can see how many will be tempted to return to base, retrace their steps – and no spoiler involved in quoting “I want to somehow grasp every detail…like a tiny dewdrop…but now it’s all engulfed in the profound darkness of time”.
Life is indeed so often like that, and in real life you can only revisit events in your unreliable head, so maybe I should join the Huffington Post reviewer and likewise “will revisit ‘The Guest Cat’ with pleasure, much as I return to favourite poems and paintings and memories” – maybe I’ll realize a bit further down the road that I had indeed missed a trick here.
Be keen to have your opinions in the meantime, though…as am left feeling a bit shortchanged and bereft. I so longed to love this book…
Crazy cat lady signing out.
Read in May 2015.
Rating : 7/10