Thomasina by Paul Gallico

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Thomasina by Paul Gallico

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Judy Davies
Reviewed by Judy Davies
Summary: A lovely, thoughtful read, full of emotion. I particularly enjoyed and admired the way Paul Gallico interpreted the thoughts and actions of the feline race and made his main character, Thomasina, so intriguing.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: January 2017
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
ISBN: 9780007395187

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A father and his six year old daughter, Mary MacDhui, are struggling to cope with the death of Mary’s mother. They move from Glasgow so that Mr MacDhui can take up a new job as Vet in a small Scottish seaside resort. Burying his head in a job he does not wholly love, Mr MacDhui spares his young daughter little time or attention, and she finds solace in her new friends and her beloved pet cat. Thomasina, a remarkable cat, drives the plot in this story, which Paul Gallico tells with heart breaking and emotional twists and turns.

Inveranoch in Argyll is a close knit community and provides a busy living for the town’s Vet, tending to livestock on the surrounding farms and to the pets of the visitors who flood into the resort in summer. But such a small community, where everyone has an opinion of everyone else, can be a blessing and a burden, as Mr MacDhui finds out when his daughter develops a devastating illness. Luckily for Mr MacDhui the local priest is a wonderful friend, and despite their different outlooks on life, Angus Peddie supports him as only a true friend can.

Gallico is a master at creating larger than life characters and the dour Mr MacDhui presents us with a man not easy to like. But his gruffness grows from the losses and disappointments of his life, and as the story of Thomasina unfolds, he softens before our eyes. The character of Thomasina herself is an intriguing one, living as she does half in the cat world and half in the human world. She has all the base instincts of a wild animal but is also drawn like a magnet into the relationships that develop with the humans around her.

As well as dealing with the pain of loss, the existence of God and the possibilities of white witchcraft, Gallico also draws the reader into the mythical world of cat worship in ancient Egyptian culture. In one short novel, it is a fascinating peek into some of the more serious and obscure aspects of life.

I really enjoyed the journey the reader goes on, in healing a family bereft by loss. Gallico helps us to feel the pain of loss acutely in this story, as for a greater part of the narrative one of the characters is largely absent from the tale. The insight into a cat’s mentality is a joy and I was quite drawn into the mysticism of the tale. I perhaps, would have liked the romantic outcome of the story, to be a little more realistic.

Gallico has a convoluted style which takes some getting used to, but each of his sentences pack a punch and sometimes necessitate a re-reading. A book for adults as much as for children. This is a book I will definitely re-read.

If you like stories about animals, love and loss, such as The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd and Levi Pinfold, then you will enjoy this novel.

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