Seven Lives and One Great Love: Memoirs of a Cat could only have been written by someone who knows and loves cats. I thought it would simply by a charming bit of fluff--much like the fluffy white tale of Sugar Zach, he of the many lives and droll humor (and one very perceptive cat you will not be surprised to know). Greek writer Lena Divani has captured the essence spot on of just what it means to be a cat and be a cat owner. And I will make a confession. She had me in tears by story's end. She wrote the story of my own cats it seemed, down to the bit about going on vacation and . . . well, I don't want to give the ending away.
I mentioned earlier that I was reading a book narrated by a wise little feline. Wise in that cat way, and if you own a cat you'll know what I mean. It's questionable just who owns who and who allows who to live in the shared space. I think we all know who is really master and who is, shall we say, the slave.
Sugar Zach is owned by allows the Damsel (as he lovingly calls her) to take him home as a kitten. She is a writer with a live in boyfriend. She is somewhat distracted and in need of subtle molding by Sugar Zach, a task he is only too happy to take on, though he despairs of his ever shaping her entirely as he would like. What he wants most of all is for her to give him the ultimate attention and write him into one of her books. She is actually a historian and must travel for her research and writing and thinks nothing of shipping off Sugar Zach to friends or family on occasion and when she is writing erroneously thinks she must do so in solitude--closing the door on Sugar Zach. Oh, how much she has to learn. You never shut the door on an inquisitive and determined cat.
"According to my calculations, I must have thrown myself upon the hateful door handle at least eighty-seven times. The Damsel met my willfulness with equal amounts of her own."
If he manages to open the door, she slides him back out. Ignoring him won't work. He lays his paw on her keyboard and she pushes him away. Persistence always pays off and we all know who is going to win in the end.
Sugar Zach is a very astute observer. He understands her relationship with her father and her failing relationship with her boyfriend. He knows what trouble other boyfriends can make well before the Damsel catches on. And he reflects on all of it with humor and valuable insight. He offers bits of wisdom in the form of "meows"--
"Meow No. 667: The Damsel, like all lower animals, responds well to a reward system."
* * *
Meow No. 777: You mustn't let any opportunity to be stroked go to waste. It's a sinful waste to die unstroked."
Poor Sugar Zach, however, does suffer a number of indignities (willingly mostly) like being called fatso (but she's the one who feeds him) or being swished around the floor by his front paws for amusement sake. He always knows when she is coming home, especially from her trips, by that trudge of feet on the stairs as she calls out to him. He loves the Damsel even if she is occasionally indifferent to his wants, needs and desires. Even if she won't take the hints he so lovingly sets out in order for her to realize the ultimate acknowledgement for him is for her to write him into one of her books.
Lena Divani surely must have had her own "Sugar Zach". I could picture him walking out of the pages practicully, nudging my hand to pet him and pushing at the door in order to be let in her inner sanctum. But does he get his wish?
You'll have to pick up Sugar Zach's story to find out. But a small warning. Get ready to be amused and entertained. But make sure you have a hanky close at hand, too. Don't worry, though, this is a story that ends on a happy and satisfying note. Reading about Sugar Zach makes me miss my own kitties. And it made me appreciate them all the more, too.