Nana, a cat, is devoted to Satoru, his owner. So when Satoru decides to go on a roadtrip one day to find him a new home, Nana is perplexed. They visit Satoru’s old friends from his school days and early youth. His friends may have untidy emotional lives but they are all animal lovers, and they also wonder why Satoru is trying to give his beloved cat away. Until the day Nana suddenly understands a long-held secret about his much-loved owner, and his heart begins to break. Narrated in turns by Nana and by his owner, this funny, uplifting, heartrending story of a cat is nothing if not profoundly human.
At the time of writing this review Goodreads have rated this as 4.28 out of 5
I am a cat. As yet, I have no name. There’s a famous cat in our country who once made this very statement.
I have no clue how great that cat was, but at least when it comes to having a name I got there first. Whether I like my name is another matter, since it glaringly doesn’t fit my gender, me being male and all. I was given it about five years ago – around the time I came of age.
Here is my cat.
Her hobbies including sleeping, ensuring that she sits where she fits and judging you.
She has had no impact on this review at all. None.
Ok, that is a lie.
My confession is that The Travelling Cat Chronicles is not a book that I would have picked up pre cat. It’s not even a book that I would have picked up post cat but, because I have a cat, people like to buy me cat related things. I don’t mind this at all. One of those cat related things was this book which my Mum got me because it has a scruffy black cat on the cover.
I am such a softy when it comes to animals and so oddly enough I don’t like reading books about animals because inevitably conflict has to occur to create a plot and if animals are involved I get all sad. I also get nervous because I just think ‘death’ all the time because quite often that’s what writers insert (especially with animals) because they know a lot of people will have an emotional response of some kind. Darn you, you manipulative writers! *shakes fist*
I won’t spoil anything with this book aside from these two things.
- There is a permanent undercurrent of sadness within the story, the reason is hinted at early on and astute readers will pick up on it
- The story has taken the saying; ‘life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey’ to heart
This book didn’t blow me away but I did like it for what it is – a charming, slightly quirky, gentle book about life and what it’s like to be owned by a cat.
Is it one that I would recommend to non cat lovers? No. Actually I wouldn’t. This is also why owning a cat has had an impact on this review – this book (while not exactly about cats per se) is definitely one for those that look at cats or more specifically their own cat(s) and sigh wistfully while saying, “only other cat mad people will understand why I let you breathe your fish breath on me at 3am and why only other cat mad people think it’s cute that you decide to attack my toes when I go for a nighttime wee. You’re so adorable.”
This book is about a cat mad person called Satoru and because we are cut from the same cloth I find his actions and his interactions with his cat, Nana completely relatable. This journey he is on to find Nana a new owner takes him through Japan to visit old friends. As ‘Travelling Cat’ is mostly third person we get to see Satoru’s backstory but also laced in his story is the point of view of his friends. Not only do we get their viewpoint of Satoru but also their own life stories.
Even better is when we get to experience the first catson (not really first person) perspective of the journey from Nana and this is where it is slightly quirky and what I would almost call ‘magical realism.’ The other reason why I think it helps to be a cat person is because of these sections. Some people may just go, ‘this is simply bizarre’ but I got a giggle because of the confidence and self assured nature of Nana just made me go – ‘yep, that’s a cat.’
The translation from Japanese to English does make the writing feel a little clunky at times and some of what was probably rather poetic language is lost. The story is sweetly delightful although, as mentioned above, slightly tinged with sadness.
What I particularly liked and alluded to in my post about roadtrip books is that this is a rare non USA roadtrip book as it is set in Japan. The descriptions of the ocean, Mount Fuji, Japanese towns and culture and swaying pampas grass has really given me a hunger to visit Japan.
This book also made me want to pick up my cat and give her cuddles. Which I did.
She came in a minute ago and meowed at me so I told her I was talking about her. She is now sat on my bullet journal purring away filled with the satisfaction of knowing that she’s a cat who is awesome and spoilt.
This blog post has been bought to you by me and apparently Willow.