Books, Review

Book Review: The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide ***

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A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another.

One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby garden. But then something happens that will change everything again.

This little novella was the first book I read in the new year. It’s a poetic look at the day to day life of two freelance writers. One day, a cat appears. The next day, the cat comes to visit again. And the day after that, and so on. (Writers and cats, right up my lightning alley –> sorry, inside joke)

What this book does really well is describe the little moments. The way light shines through a window or how the wind plays in the trees. The moment when a cat is ready to pounce.

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Although, at some points, you could see the Japanese text through the English words, it was still well translated. It didn’t bother me but it also wasn’t the best translation I’ve ever read. (To be honest, it’s the first book I’ve ever read that was translated from Japanese. So I’m not sure if that’s just the way one language translates to another.)

Then why give it three stars?

Well, I constantly felt like I was missing something. Maybe I had expected it to be more magical or more exciting but it turned out to be neither. The story was slow and by the end I really couldn’t care less and I’m a cat lady… I was supposed to care.

I also got lost in the timing of the events. Where I felt like it should be summer, oh no only a week has gone by so now it’s October. It was like I was thrown from one end to the other only to find out that I hadn’t moved at all. It was so weird and it made me uncomfortable.

So this book let me down. Unfortunately.
I’ve already forgotten most of what I read so it’s fair to say that’s it’s not one that will stay with me.

Not a great start to 2017 but from here, it can only get better.

Love

Ellen

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