My thanks to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for a review copy of this book.
Diary of a Buddhist Cat is a delightful, humorous and entertaining read which I absolutely loved.
This was the second of my recent reads to be narrated by a cat! Freddie is a three-year-old black-and-white tom who is adopted from a shelter by John and Mary. He previously lived with an old lady who gave him up when she couldn’t afford his veterinary bills. But at the lady’s house, Freddie had read some books on Buddhism and practices its principles trying to be kind to everyone around him, living or inanimate. The other cat that John and Mary adopted, a few days before Freddie, is Gemma who is his polar opposite. Having had her kittens taken from her, she seems to hold this against all and sundry, seeing humans as fascists and being nasty to everyone. In fact, she has six levels of sneers expressing different degrees of disapproval.
Freddie of course gets along better with his humans and soon begins to explore his surroundings making friends with the crows in the garden, their cousins from the park, a squirrel named Rufus and Holly the hamster who lives in a neighbouring house. Freddie also loves to read so not only does he spend hours with his humans’ books, he also begins to visit the library next door with help from the crows. When he tries his paw at the photocopier, the harried librarian gets a little spooked and has no idea what she’s dealing with, leading to some amusing consequences.
The story is essentially us following Freddie’s adventures as he settles into his new home, explores the park and the library, reads books and makes new friends, all the while practicing his Buddhist principles.
This was as I said a sweet, delightful and funny read which I enjoyed every bit of. I really loved Freddie. He’s good-natured, friendly, helpful and genuinely wants to do good by everyone. He really believes in and tries hard to practice the Buddhist way of life, from moderation in food to thanking anything that helps him, even the tree he climbs, and this comes through in a very sweet way. I also liked that while he tries to be a good person, it is in a realistic way—he knows a nasty person or animal when he sees one and has no qualms when they get their just desserts (may be, he does have a pang). One enjoys following his adventures which are intended at simply exploring, reading new books and making friends but which end up in more complicated, even unexpected pursuits. And through them, we get glimpses of human oddities as well.
Freddie’s love of reading was also great fun–he’s a well-read cat and reads widely so one finds him picking up Dickens and Austen, Agatha Christie, Virginia Woolf and Terry Pratchett but also Bertrand Russell and Carl Jung, among others. It was such fun seeing all the books he reads (lots and lots of them), and also the different allusions and references woven into the story. His reading also causes him to reflect on philosophical questions, at times but really, whether he is reading Dickens, Christie or Russell, I loved reading his observations on the stories and characters.
Most other characters too, are likeable whether it is the various crows (too many to name), Rufus the squirrel, Holly or even John and Mary the humans, but there are also those who are not so nice, even if they don’t quite qualify as ‘villains’ (not that they don’t try). I also loved that the story remained light and fun throughout with no unnecessary drama, but at the same time keeping dangers such as the busy road realistic.
Except for some of Freddie’s art with the photocopier which was maybe not quite to my taste, I had very good fun with this one. Recommended for anyone who loves cats and books (and a humorous read).
p.s. I enjoyed this one so much that I bumped this one up on my posting list even though I had a couple of others that I had meant to post earlier. And the cover is so so cute!