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A Comfort of Cats by Doreen Tovey (1980)

Book review: A Comfort of Cats by Doreen Tovey (Summersdale, 2008 [1980])

Tucked away in an idyllic corner of the West Country, you’d think Doreen and her husband Charles would be enjoying a peaceful life – but far from it. Their wily Siamese companions still keep them on their toes.

The Toveys are presented with a new problem when the local cattery closes down. Where will they leave Saska and Shebalu when they go on holiday? And so they buy a caravan to take the cats away with them, only to discover that packing up and leaving home is far from a holiday when seal-points are involved.

As Saska grows ever more boisterous, he develops monkey-like climbing abilities, a knack for opening doors and a somewhat inconvenient obsession with wool. With Annabel the self-willed donkey, Father Adams and a host of gossiping villagers, this is a beguiling tale to enchant and amuse.

I picked up A Comfort of Cats from the bargain bin at the local PDSA charity shop, because … well, it had a big cat on the front, and the back cover sounded interesting. Apparently, Doreen Tovey have written a number of books about her life in the West Country with their Siamese cats, but this is the only one I’ve read.

First off, it’s a delightful read. If you have cats, you’ll definitely have a giggle. Even if you don’t, it’s still an amusing read … but it probably helps if you like them.

What I really liked about it is how much Doreen and Charles obviously care for animals. Their cats are family members, as is Annabella the donkey, and they’re perfectly happy to let a little mouse spend the winter in the house with them. I would say that the animals are perhaps a bit too anthropomorphised at times, but at the same time, it’s cute.

The locals of their little village are colourful and quirky (think Vicar of Dibley), and very well-drawn. The Toveys are relatable, and Doreen’s storytelling is warm and rich. It can put a smile on anyone’s face. It sure did mine, at any rate. A Comfort of Cats is a great pick-me-up.

4.5 out of 5 caravans.


An easily distracted Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel, when there's not a plague on.

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