Apr 22, 2010

Conversations with Amber

by Gladys Taber

Once there was a woman who lived on Cape Cod, a writer. She had a beautiful little abyssinian cat, whom you might think spoiled- this kitty dines fresh steaks, lamb or flounder fillets, interrupts the bed-making with her naps- which must go undisturbed, takes supervised strolls around the property on a leash, nibbles on asparagus tips and is constantly provided with fresh drinking water in a glass, served with ice. Some life for a kitty! But Amber, as she is called, also has a very distinctive personality, and a determined will of her own as well. She is a well-loved companion, and listens patiently to all Mrs. Taber's musings. Conversations with Amber is a gentle book about the deep companionship they share. Not only is it about life with a cat, all their interesting feline habits and traits, but also a compilation of the author's thoughts on many different subjects- from world hunger, the women's liberation movement and ageing to subjects closer to home, like the responsibility we have to those we love, how sensitive pets can be to the emotional tension in a home, or methods for relieving a worried mind- all in the format of discussions she has with her cat. Amber answers in kind, her direct (or averted) gaze, lifted whiskers, swiveling ears, moving tail or gently prodding paw speaking just as loud as words. A lovely book, indeed.

I read this one for the Random challenge, although I'm not quite sure it counts. I read it several times long ago when found at my public library in childhood, but hadn't seen it since and when I picked it up at a discard sale a few months ago, wasn't sure of the contents (I knew it was about a cat, and that I'd enjoyed it, but no more than that). So it was shelved among my TBR books, as I wanted to be reintroduced to it with another reading.

The author, Gladys Taber, was apparently a prolific writer (LibraryThing lists 46 books to her name) and popular in her time. I've never seen another book of hers, but I do want to read the other one she's written about her kitty, titled Amber, a Very Personal Cat. It was kind of sad to me (but happy too, because this is why the library discarded it and the book came into my hands!) to see on the old borrower's card inside the pocket that my copy of Conversations with Amber was checked out only six times in the year it was published, then seven times in 1979, once in 1980, twice in '81, three times in '86 and never again for the next twenty-some years. Of course, I can't tell when its library of origin switched over to computers as opposed to stamping cards, but I do know this book has been under-appreciated! Give it a read, if you come across a copy. It's worth it.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 176 pages, 1978


bermudaonion said...

Well, I have to tell you, Amber doesn't sound much more spoiled than my dog. Animals sure do make great listeners, don't they?

Jeane said...

O yes, they do! My kitties get plain old canned catfood, and room-temperature tapwater, so I thought Amber had royal treatment in comparison!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I'd better not let any of my cats hear about Amber, because they survive on dry food! Cats and dogs are amazing when it comes to figuring out when you need comforting. They just KNOW. This sounds like a wonderful book (and I say it counts).

Connie said...

My cats are jealous! And I've definitely got to get a copy of this book. It sounds utterly charming.


-Connie @ Constance-reader.com