The Relish family are all cat-aficionados, myself included. Until I moved away to University and the seriously none cat-friendly zones of Manchester halls of residence I had never lived without them and my life is all the better for it. Wily, independent, cuddly, grumpy, intelligent and massively stupid, all of them have enriched our lives and therefore any literature written for and by cat lovers will always be a winner for me.
Already won over by Paul Gallico’s cat stories (see: Jennie) and Collette’s spellbinding The Cat, Derek Tangye’s Minack Chronicles have been teasing me from the shelves for years….I’d just been waiting for a special occasion. Turns out November 2012 was that special occasion I’d been waiting for. Call it a Jessie Lamb hangover cure.
Derek Tangye’s autobiographical tales of his life in Minack with his wife Jeannie and their menagerie of cats, birds and donkeys is the ultimate escapist novel, made all the better by the fact that it all happened in real life. Mr and Mrs Tangye abandoned their high-flying City jobs (Derek at MI5 and Jeannie as PR exec for the Savoy Hotel) to live the rural dream on the Cornish Coast. Starting up a small flower growing farm (back in the days when running such a business was possible) we follow the Tangyes in their simple life and, most importantly, chart their relationship with their feline friends; Monty, Lama, Ambrose and Oliver. (And Derek’s personal transformation from cat-skeptic to cat-lover.)
Don’t be fooled. You don’t need to be a crazy-cat lady to appreciate the charm of this novel, and it really isn’t as twee as the cover might suggest. The real beauty of this book comes in the couples’ complete rejection of the money-orientated attitude and lifestyle so many (read: too many) people revolve their lives around. Although veering onto the slightly smug side of things at times (and who can blame them), Somewhere a cat is waiting is just so wonderfully simple. What could be more beautiful than living among and appreciating nature, animals and all the other more important things in life. Aaaah it makes me want to own a croft and start knitting…or basket weaving and planting sunflowers….
Next time you’re feeling blue and at odds with that shallow world out there, pick up a Tangye. You can’t go wrong.