Monday, September 17, 2018

Bono by Helen Brown

Reviewed by Jeanne

Have you ever wanted to just start over?  Reinvent yourself? Get out of the ruts of going to work, making dinner, mowing the lawn, and all those other tasks that regiment our days? Maybe you’ve dreamed of going to England and living in a village, drinking cups of tea and chatting with the vicar, crabgrass long forgotten.  Or maybe moving to Paris, and wearing sunglasses and a chic scarf while buying fresh croissants and strawberries from a street market.

Australian writer Helen Brown has hit one of those milestones.  Her last child has left home, her job is routine, and even her marriage seems to be—well, unexciting.  In fact, her husband just bought a pair of flannel pajamas that look like a pair Helen’s dad used to wear. It seems a perfect time to spread her wings a little. Take a bit of time to take stock, and maybe make some changes to her life.

On a whim, she suggests a visit to New York to her publisher who—much to her surprise—immediately expresses such encouragement and support that Helen is left slightly dazed.  Arrangements are made quickly, and the publisher tosses out another idea:  since her other books have had cats in them, why not foster a cat while she’s visiting?

The latter doesn’t exactly fit in with Brown’s plans to take the proverbial bite out of the Big Apple.  She wants to play tourist, go to Broadway shows, attend glamorous parties, shop, and take some time to decide if she is cut out to be a New Yorker. She’s not sure she wants to be stuck scooping litter boxes and doling out cat food.  She convinces herself that the cat will be some sedate senior who will nap all day and require very little care.

Instead, she’s presented with Bono, a special needs cat with attitude to spare and who isn’t inclined to sit placidly on a cushion and wait for attention.

I've been a Helen Brown fan ever since Cleo and this one does not disappoint.  While Brown uses cats in her books, this isn't really the bio of a cat, although Bono does get his share of page time. Brown always uses the cats to illustrate working through things in one's own life.  In Cleo, it was recovering from grief and building a new life with love and even joy; in Cats and Daughters, it was dealing with both a life-threatening illness and learning to let your children make their own way. She always handles the topics with warmth and humor.

Lovely, funny, honest, and ultimately uplifting, Bono is another winner for Brown. 

I highly recommend all her books, including her novel Tumbledown Manor.

La Nuit seems to like Bono

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