The horror of losing a child is bad enough. But when that child is the only one you are ever likely to have, and you are a fast-approaching-forty, single mother, the loss can steal your very will to live. Throw in the guilt Elise feels about letting her eleven-year-old son be run down by a car in his own front yard, and her wish to join him in death is easy to understand. Her world has been changed forever, her purpose in life snatched while she was not paying attention.
In such pain that she wants nothing more than to be left alone, the bewildered Elise begins to plan her death. It should be easy enough certainly for someone as determined as her. But then it hits her: if she kills herself, there will be no one left to take care of her son's beloved cat, Pursie. She knows her son will never forgive her if she abandons the animal to the woods surrounding their rural home. So, reluctantly, she makes it through the first night without her son as her "jailer lay next to her and purred."
The Cat chronicles the next seven months of Elise's struggle to maintain her sanity as she cares for Pursie - and finally, even a little for herself. As Elise crosses off the days on her calendar, she and Pursie settle into an existence of near isolation. That isolation, however, will prove to be an impossible goal as Elise, over time, is forced to interact a bit with friends, neighbors, and others concerned about her. Try as she might, she will not be allowed to cut herself off from the rest of the world.
Much of Elise's story is told through the memories she types out as a way to forget for a few minutes about her son's death. Her less than ideal childhood (Elise was born with nevus flammeus, a purple "stain" largely covering the left side of her face that made her a target for the taunts of other children) perhaps explains her ease with total isolation and a tendency to slip into despair. But, as Elise will learn, hope can come from where one least expects to find it - and then she has to decide what to do with it.
The Cat might not be long on action, but its message is a powerful one that readers will think about long after they turn the novel's final page. If "literay fiction" is your preference, this one might be for you.
(Review Copy provided by Publisher)