The Cat and Mrs. Cary, by Doris Gates

The Cat and Mrs. Cary, by Doris Gates (1962), came into my home last weekend when my sister was visiting.  Every visit she sends me a list of a few books to check out of the Rhode Island library system (less ruthlessly weeded than those of many other states) for her, and this was one she'd read as a child and wanted to revisit.  So of course I read it too, and enjoyed it very much.

It's the story of an oldish woman, Mrs. Cary, a widow who has bought herself a little house by the sea, where she lives alone in perfect order.  Then one day a cat enters her life, a cat who can talk to her, and only her.  She'd never wanted a cat, but The Cat is a force to be reckoned with, and he has decided to stay.  Soon after she finds herself agreeing to  host her nephew, who's been badly ill, so that the sea air can revive him, even though she's very doubtful about this.

Brad, the nephew, is doubtful as well, but when he turns out to be a bookish, good-natured boy, Mrs. Cary is much relieved (as Brad is too when he finds out the same about her).  And Brad likes cats very much, so he and The Cat get along like a house on fire, even though they can't speak to each other.  Brad finds Mrs. Cary's one-sided conversations vastly amusing, though some of the neighbors have been startled by them....

The author clearly felt that Plot was needed, so into this gentle story comes Danger and Suspense, in the form of a (small) ring of....wait for it...Parakeet Smugglers!  Brad, Mrs. Cary, The Cat, and a girl also visiting the town foil the smugglers, and all ends well, with The Cat and Brad going home together and Mrs. Cary getting three kittens.

Although ostensibly a children's book, Mrs. Cary is definitely the main character (perhaps the children's book-ness is why her first name is never given), but this story of a woman more lonely than she admits to herself finding companionship has as much, if not more, appeal for grown-ups. Prefect reading when you need something companionable and undemanding, with bits of humor, if you can cope with/more or less ignore parakeet smuggling as a plot point.  I'll be returning it tomorrow, if any fellow Rhode Islanders are in the mood for such a book....

1 comment:

  1. oooh, now i want to read that again, it's been years...


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