As a fan of both cat cozies and mysteries based in actual history, I was delighted to find How to Wash a Cat. It seemed like it was tailor-made for me--until I started reading it.
The cats and the history did, in fact, prove charming. The rest of the tale? No so much. The main character is nameless throughout the bulk of the book, which was irritating, and the resolution of that issue was equally obnoxious. There is also a lack of description of the main character. The only certainty is that she's passive to the point of being wishy-washy. The other characters, however, are described in detailed, rather snotty ways. Most of them, for instance, are smelly and/or childish.
The deal-breaker, however, was that the mystery simply wasn't very good. Like the rest of the book, it had lots of potential with very little follow through. Aspects of the tale originated only to go nowhere, leaving parts unresolved, while other aspects skewed dangerously close to deus ex machina territory.
I wanted to like this book. I really did. OK, it had some strikes against it--for one, it was about cats. I do not like cats, and I think people who think cats are people have only a loose grip on reality. Nevertheless, I have loved a number of books with cats in them, mostly outstandingly Lilian Jackson Braun's THE CAT WHO... series.
Secondly, the heroine is an accountant--like me. Imagine my distress to discover that the leading lady here is insipid, clueless, spineless, 100% incapable of making any kind of decision, and unwilling to stand up for herself, even if she could figure out what she really wants. In short, a person I am wholly unable to identify with. I do not want to ride around in her head, sharing her confusion and indecision. Sheesh!
So, I kept telling myself I was going to put down this book and not finish it. Well, I finished it, but I complained the whole time, and had several episodes of slamming it down on the table and tossing it away in disgust.
Aside from slanderously defaming and misrepresenting the personalities of accountants, what else is wrong here? Let me give you a few ideas on that:
1. The author purposely uses obscure dictionary-only words just to impress us with her high level of intelligence and prodigious vocabulary. The words chosen are usually archaic and never needed to be used--there were simple, direct synonyms that would have told the story much better without taking the reader out of the story to go find a dictionary. Instead of impressing us, she does the opposite--exposes an amateurish desire to show off.
2. To me--and this one is totally subjective--the plot doesn't hold water. It's just not credible. Things happen for no reason. The most unlikely things happen. I just couldn't suspend my disbelief.
3. The character of Monty is so distasteful that no one would put up with him, much less let him steamroll her so thoroughly and continually. The best our heroine could do is try to hide from him periodically. (One supposes that's because accountants have no backbone and no personality.)
[Allow me to wander off topic momentarily. I was particularly thrilled to run across a quote some years ago that went like this: "What's an actuary? Oh, they're like accountants, only without the personality." Finally, someone admitting that accountants have personalities!]
Back to the book, now. Usually, these cozy books have charm and humor. None of that makes it through the problems with the book.
So, I'm listing this book to trade off to someone who doesn't mind spineless, clueless heroines and perhaps will buy anything with a cat in the title. No one else need bother with it.
This book was a cute cozy. The main charater had zero personality but her cats made up for it. Rupert wa a cutie.. I have one named that myself.
The book had alot of history of San Francisco which was really cool, but the plot was scattered and The character Monty was just obnoxious...
The ending was very confusing.. What did Mrs. Wang give to her? It ended very suddon and odd. Maybe the next book will be more rounded out.
I liked this book, but found it a bit slow going at the beginning. But the ending was good. The characters are interesting, but one is quite annoying. I always enjoy reading books with a bit of history in them. I feel as though I have learned something.
The book was interesting in that it had a lot of San Francisco history. That said, I found it to be a little hard to get through for 2 reasons.
First, it is a little wordy--sometimes first time authors overelaborate, she did that.
Second, I found Monty, the character to be extremely irritating and could not imagine how the main character could spend time with him.
The cats, however, especially Rupert, are extremely cute..
Currently 2.5/5 Stars.
HandsHeal2 reviewed How to Wash a Cat (Cats and Curios, Bk 1) on
2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Spoiler Alert! This book was enjoyable and mostly well-written. The reason I give it such a low rating was the fact you never find out the protagonist's name until the last sentence (she's always referred to as the deceased's neice) and the last sentence reveals her name to be the author's name...cheeeesy!
I have mixed feelings about this book. I agree with a reviewer on another site who described the characters as over the top. They can be a bit distracting. It was extremely difficult throughout the book to figure out who the good guys were, who the bad guys were and what exactly the mystery was about. I was also a bit disoriented by the fact that you don't know the name of the main character throughout the book. The conclusion of the book was a bit disatisfying to me as well. The bright spots were the two cats, Isabella & Rupert. I geuss I would give the book a 5 rating. The second book in the series comes out later this year. I will read it in the hopes that things will be a bit clearer than in the first.
This is a first in a new series. Basically about a young lady with 2 cats. She is beginning a new life in this historical area. Her uncle has his own personal museum to the Gold Rush era. She and her feline friends begin their journey there in San Francisco