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August has been a difficult month for me, with some personal family problems revolving around a family member being in hospital. With this in mind, when I was choosing my next book to read I wanted something light-hearted, which wasn't too deep or serious, and wouldn't require too much concentration. When I spotted this on my bookshelf, from one of my charity shop purchases over the years, it sounded like it would tick all these boxes.
Chris Pascoe is a writer who decided to stay at home one summer looking after his little girl, Mia, whilst his wife went out to work. During this time, he found life became quite entertaining, with various antics from his daughter, and his two cats Brum and Sammy. This book isn't a novel as such, but is a collection of anecdotes and observations, mainly revolving around his cat Brum, who is incredibly clumsy, and his daughter Mia.
The book is split into short chapters which makes it very easy to read, and when I started reading it I was convinced I had chosen exactly the right kind of book for my state of mind. I was captivated at the beginning, reading tales of fairly everyday activities such as a visit to the park, being turned into amusing anecdotes. Unfortunately, towards the end of the book it got a bit "samey", and I was starting to get a bit bored.
The book has an unusual layout, and each chapter can vary from an anecdote, to more factual pieces of information. There is a chapter which is quite serious and well researched, which tells us about famous cats in history, for example cats who have sailed on ships, or undertaken acts of bravery. I must admit I found this quite interesting, but would recommend this book is only for extreme cat lovers!
The anecdotes and observations are very amusing, and I'm sure most cat owners would enjoy and appreciate some of the stories from this book. I laughed out loud a few times, for example when he was describing one of his cat's near-death experiences, and he talks about his feelings towards this cat who has been through life's ups and downs with him, he then goes on to call him a "tabby b*stard" because he cost him several hundred pounds in vets bills. From this point of view, it's not overly sentimental as it's written by a man. I mean, it's obvious this guy loves his cat, but he doesn't let him get away with too much either.
The observational humour is very funny, and this is probably my favourite aspect of the book. He describes various behaviours which are true of most cats, such as that random heavy sighing they do when they're trying to get to sleep, or the way they always seem to cause chaos when you're trying to relax. There is a great story about his wife's friend who comes to visit because she needs a bit of rest, and the cat spends an entire weekend causing stressful situations such as falling into the bath while she's trying to relax.
Overall, this is a great feelgood book, and it did exactly what I needed it to at the time. It's not a book you need to concentrate on, nor is it meant to give anything resembling a plot. But for cat lovers, it's a nice uplifting read, and would make a good stocking filler at Christmas.
(This review may also be posted on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)