#BookReview The Writer’s Cats by Muriel Barbery and Maria Guitart @BelgraviaB

The Writer's CatAbout the Book

From the best-selling author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog comes this delightful, delicate tale that pays tribute to the poetry of the everyday, to Japanese philosophy, and to the ingenuity and sardonic humor of cats.

What a mysterious, confounding thing is a writer! Yet, spend a little time with the writer’s cats and one might just understand her better.

Muriel Barbery, via her feline friends and co-conspirators, takes readers into her atelier, offering them a behind-the-scenes peek into her process and problems, joys and disappointments. The tale is told from the perspective of one of the writer’s four cats, Kirin, who, together with her cohort, may or may not be a reliable narrator. There’s Ocha, the leader of the gang, a tough guy with a soft heart; the bandy-legged and affectionate Mizu, Ocha’s sister; the phlegmatic and refined Petrus, lover of flowers; and finally, pretty Kirin, narrator of this bewitching story.

Format: Hardcover (80 pages) Publisher: Gallic Books
Publication date: 19th October 2021 Genre: Nonfiction, Humour

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My Review

What’s this, Cathy reading a book about cats (and an illustrated one at that) when she’s not even that much of a cat lover? Well, I’m so glad I did because this is a charming book by Muriel Barbery (whose book A Single Rose I read and reviewed recently) with wonderful illustrations by Maria Guitart.

I loved the clever touches such as the fact the illustrations stick predominantly to the same colour palette as Chartreux cats – grey and orange – and that the writer is seen only from the back until the very end of the book. Just as it should be, Kirin, Ocha, Mizu and Petrus would say, as after all we’re the stars of the book.

There’s lots of self-deprecating humour about the trials and tribulations of being a writer which, as her cats observe, manifests itself in three ways: restlessness, doubt and denial. I loved the way the cats discuss the writer’s latest output, assessing it for language and style as well as ‘consistency, relevance and the narrative progression of the text’. When it comes to denial – the tendency of writers to try to convince themselves that what they’ve written is good when in their heart they know it’s full of holes – the cats are only too happy to help. After all who needs an editor when you have Mizu farting noisily on the offending lines?

The Writer’s Cats is charming, funny and beautiful to look at. It would make a wonderful gift for the cat lover in your life… and at the same time contribute to the share of the royalties demanded by Muriel’s cats.

My thanks to Gallic Books for my advance review copy.

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Muriel BarberyAbout the Author

Muriel Barbery is a former lecturer in philosophy and the bestselling author of IMPAC-shortlisted The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Published in France in 2006 and in the UK in 2008, it has gone on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide and has been described by Le Figaro as ‘the publishing phenomenon of the decade’. She has lived in Kyoto, Amsterdam and Paris, and now lives in the French countryside with her husband and four Chartreux cats.

About the Illustrator

Maria Guitart was born in Barcelona. She holds a degree in Art History from the University of Barcelona and a certificate of Higher Technical Education in illustration from the Massana School of Art and Design. Currently, she combines her job as an illustrator with work as an editor of international fiction.


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