Sunday, 8 February 2015

Book Review - Doris Lessing "On Cats"

I think it's safe to say that I have a soft spot for cats.  I wrote here about a neighbourhood cat who adopted us and here about getting our own cat.  There's something about the vulnerable yet independent nature of cats that intrigues me.

Back in December, when I was Christmas shopping for my boyfriend, I absolutely did not buy this book for myself.  No, I really did buy it for him and just happened to borrow it later.  Yes.  That is how it happened.

Anyway, I digress.  Doris Lessing has always been one of my favourite authors after I read The Grass is Singing so I was interested to see how she approached such a potentially schmaltzy subject.

It's a tough read, the polar opposite of Lolz Catz.  Doris Lessing is honest, brutally so at times.  *Spoiler alert*  There's a passage at the beginning of the book where she describes the culling of a large number of feral cats on the farm where she was brought up.  This has been mentioned in many disgusted comments on Amazon etc but although I can't say I enjoyed reading it, I appreciated the fearless self examination.  

This book is a trilogy of three stories - Particularly Cats, about her childhood growing up on a farm in Rhodesia as well as Grey Cat and Black Cat who shared her home in London; Rufus the Survivor (which I don't mind admitting broke my heart) and The Old Age of El Magnifico, the story of the final years of the last cat to share her home.

I'll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the book...
      "Cat walks across your room, and in that lonely stalk you see leopard or even panther, or it turns its head to acknowledge you and the yellow blaze of those eyes tells you what an exotic visitor you have here, in this household friend, the cat who purrs as you stroke, or rub his chin, or scratch his head.

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