(A Chic Lady’s Guide to Woman’s Best Friend)
Murdoch Books, Australia, 2020
This is a book that has enjoyed sumptuous production treatment with its striking fashion illustration style hard cover and velvety velour spine with cursive gold font. It is indeed an object of desire and worthy of its subject, the mystique of the cat.
Belinda Alexandra is a best-selling writer of nine novels and this is her first foray into non-fiction. The work provides information about the status of the cat through history, its care and modus operandi. It is also, however, a highly personal piece of writing, laying bare the cat loving life of its author, from childhood through to the present day, when she is patron of the World League for the Protection of Animals.
There are many interesting facts and musings in this book along with a collection of engaging anecdotes. The story of how the author came to rehouse a large collection of quite wild strays from a supermarket carpark is one example which not only reveals the required methodology to undertake such a task but also much about Ms Alexandra herself. How many people would care enough about the welfare of these creatures to go through the exhausting and exhaustive process required!
Many of the mysteries of cat communication and care are revealed in this text. The dominant message is to hurry slowly when trying to develop a friendship with a cat (or any other animal for that matter). This long-time companion of women is not to be commanded but coaxed, not co-erced but persuaded.
Written in an accessible, conversational style, The Divine Feline explores the historical connection between mysogeny (patriarchy) and the way that cats have been treated by society. There are striking parallels in the fluctuating fortunes of women and cats.
There are also many helpful hints on health, nutrition and well-being – these can equally apply to cats or their human beings. A useful bibliography is provided for those who wish to delve deeper.
One thing the author is at pains to stress is that people shouldn’t be made to feel uneasy or embarrassed about their affection for their cat. The magical relationship is not one for everyone but for those who espouse the feline there should be no snide criticism.
The Divine Feline is a very enjoyable read and a book thoughtfully designed to be a thing of beauty (like the cat).
Those who wish to support the World League for the Protection of Animals can find direction at the end of the book, and the author also gives practical advice on how to be a volunteer of any sort within sensible limits of time and energy.
Many thanks to Murdoch Books Australia for the review copy of The Divine Feline and to DMCPR for facilitating my interview with Belinda.