Picking up the right book at the right time makes all the difference to your enjoyment levels. If you pick up a sure-fire hit at the wrong time then it can become a nightmare. I won’t say that December was the worst time for me to pick up this book but it certainly didn’t make it easy. She and Her Cat is the kind of book that I should have been able to read over a couple of nights or in one day over the weekend. What actually happened is that I slaved over this book for about a week. I’ve been so tired that I couldn’t manage more than a few pages a night. It was painful. I really wanted to read it but I just couldn’t. Last night, I decided to power through and finish it. I’ve been struggling at work today but at least it’s done.
I was absolutely sure that She and Her Cat was going to be my kind of book. It sounded utterly adorable and a bit quirky. It also had the added bonus of being super short. Exactly the kind of book you can curl up with on a cold winter’s day and finish before you’ve even realised. It’s only about 140 pages but that doesn’t mean it lacks substance. This is a book full of life, humanity and, most importantly, friendship. After all, friendship and love are powerful tools in this book even if it’s found in unlikely places. Or from unlikely sources.
The book is split into 4 sections. Each of these sections introduces us to a different woman. All of whom live in the same neighbourhood and find themselves at an emotional crossroads. Despite this, they each open their homes to a cat. As they get to grips with cat ownership, the women find companionship with their new pets which helps them find confidence in the rest of their lives. Each section splits between the point of view of the woman and the cat, so you get to see both sides of the relationship. The four different women live close enough together that their lives overlap. We see the other women and cats popping up in different vignettes to form a lovely little community.
When I started reading this, I was convinced it would be an obvious 5-star read. The first two sections were absolutely wonderful. I wasn’t as engaged with the third section but the final section was a bittersweet finale. I understand that the book is working with a very specific theme but I would have liked it if we had a slight change in the middle. Just to break the momentum a bit. As I say, the actual book is still very well written but the stories started to blend a little for me.
The four women we meet do have different stories but they are all in very similar places. The first is having romantic difficulties with a man she can’t let go of. She sees a stray cat, Chobi, on her way home and ends up taking him in. The companionship that she finds with Chobi gives her the strength to make some big decisions about her life. One of these decisions involves the woman of the next story. This time a young artist who can’t decide whether to carry on with her studies or to get a job. She regularly feeds a stray cat who slowly becomes a permanent resident. Will caring for this cat help her decide about her own future?
The final two stories are much the same kind of thing. There’s the young girl who has developed agoraphobia due to her guilt about the death of her friend. When her mother gets a kitten, the girl suddenly has a reason to get out of her routine. It is the last story that is the most different and sentimental. Instead of a young woman, we meet a divorcee who is finding herself a loose end now she’s living alone. She put most of her energy into caring for a stray dog but, when he leaves, she replaces him with a stray cat. Can the pair help each other find happiness again?
Overall, this is a lovely and sweet book. Sometimes it lays on its message a bit thick and it does get a bit repetitive. However, I think it’s a good message. This is a book that shows us that companionship is so important no matter where it’s coming from. It is friendship and community that provide the light we need in our darkest days. It also shows that looks can be deceiving and the most unlikely of people (or cats) can be the most capable of love. I think I made the mistake of overhyping this to myself which is why I can’t give it a full 5 stars. However, it’s well worth a read and, in a bit of time, a reread.