Autobiographical story of a woman who finds magic in her inner voice and hope from her relationships with cats.
Given the whimsical title, the reader might anticipate that Duncan’s debut novel was a children's book, or an imaginative fairy tale. However, the novel opens with Duncan’s disclosure of the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse she sustained from her adopted father. Duncan’s breezy mention of her tumultuous childhood and the abuse her parents also both experienced as children is unsettling. Duncan’s father moved the family from California to Ireland, to free his daughters from the influences of American 1960s drug culture. At school, Duncan’s emotional pain was further compounded by bullying from peers. Without the ability to physically escape the circumstances of her own life, young Duncan retreats into her own imagination. Duncan’s internal life intensifies when she begins hearing voices, guiding and instructing her actions. Eventually she begins acting out the voices’ instructions. Rather than exploring why Duncan is hearing voices, Duncan’s grandmother tells her she has “the gift." Luckily the voices advise Duncan to join the school band, where she is welcomed by her peers. One day walking home from band practice, Duncan finds a seemingly neglected kitten. Duncan takes him home to join the family's six other cats. Unfortunately the kitten disappears into the night. However, Duncan quickly finds another neglected cat to direct her affections towards. Duncan is able to bond with her tyrannical father over their mutual adoration of cats. A long succession of cats provide Duncan with the affection and validation that her interpersonal relationships lack. In turn, Duncan sees it as her duty to care for all cats that come into her life. Each chapter, named in honor of a particular cat, reveals how Duncan’s relationships with cats complements her human relationships. Changes occur in Duncan’s family relationships, romantic relationships, and career. However, Duncan’s positive relationship with cats is a constant. Overall the writing is clear and sophisticated. However, an overabundance of cat stories overshadow Duncan’s sometimes insightful reflection on the complexity of human relationships.
A quirky and at times humerus read for the serious cat enthusiast.