“The Guest Cat” by Takashi Hiraide (2014) – book review

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.

image (1)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

Image taken from here.
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6 Responses to “The Guest Cat” by Takashi Hiraide (2014) – book review

  1. Kay says:

    Great we need a crowd dividing book for our book group !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Kay, await your thoughts post read with great anticipation! – the fact that it is a slim novel is already a bonus for a June meeting I suppose (our book group have now chosen The Children Act and that was the first thing someone said, “aha short and sweet thank goodness”). Intrigued to learn what you think of it. Hope is sunny there, it’s blue skies all the way this end today, but apparently there’s wet on the way. A bientôt, xx

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  3. Nathalie says:

    I feel exactly the same about this book! I sort of liked it, but didn’t loved it. Maybe I expected to much of it, because I read so many enthousiastic reviews before hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel so badly to be negative about a read – and like you had seen so many fantastic reviews that I was very deflated all the way through it. Maybe it’s cultural too, but then so many other people didn’t seem to find this a stumbling block. I’ve put it back on the bookshelf, but as it’s such a slim book maybe in a couple of years I will go back and have a very different interpretation of it (doesn’t happen very often, though, so the jury’s out slightly). Thanks very much for your comments. Nicola

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  5. Radhika says:

    Former crazy cat lady here. Now living as part of a catless couple. This book seems like a touch of destiny, somehow. Can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Please do and please let me know if you think I’ve missed the plot on this one. So many people can’t be wrong!!
    Hope the catless-ness is all good? We’ve had Lily for just over two years and she is a “live in the flat” cat as am fearful she would be a “flat cat” if she fell out of our fourth floor windows or we’d get into a “cat flap” if she got up onto the roof!! Thanks for your comment – keep me posted. Nicola

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