The best novels not only keep us engaged from beginning to end but create such memorable characters that we think of them long after the last page has been turned. Good writers have the ability to “paint” a masterpiece with their words, to describe people, places and events in a way that makes us feel like we’re right there in the scene. We feel what the characters feel; we rejoice when things go well, and cry when they don’t. We wish the story would never end, because it’s hard to bid farewell to people who have become as real as those in our own lives.
Gwen Cooper’s new novel, Love Saves the Day, achieves all of this and then some. With a sassy brown tabby as its primary narrator, the book is certain to appeal to cat lovers. However, it has so much more to offer – with universal themes of love, loss, healing, family and relationships – that I honestly can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t be touched by this hauntingly beautiful tale.
|Gwen and Homer|
Love Saves the Day Synopsis
Prudence is a very cool cat with a great purrsonality. Love Saves the Day allows us to see life through the eyes of a cat – one who is sweet, sassy, wise, witty, clever, loving and funny. Her unique feline perspective is artfully captured by Cooper, who obviously understands cats (and knows them as well as any human can!). To wit: “All cats are born knowing that there’s no point in paying attention to unreasonable rules made by humans,” says Prudence.
The story, set in New York City, begins with Prudence describing her home and her Most Important Person, Sarah. Prudence was just five weeks old when Sarah rescued her from a deserted construction site. Now three, she and Sarah have forged a beautiful bond. Prudence has Sarah fully trained in the feline courtesies and customs, and life is good.
Then one day, Sarah goes to work and doesn’t return home. We know what Prudence cannot – that Sarah passed away and will never be coming back. Even when Sarah’s daughter, Laura, arrives with boxes to pack up all her things, Prudence is unaware that her Most Important Person is gone forever. She knows instinctively that her life is about to change, but she clings to the belief that Sarah will return.
Months later, living with Laura and her husband Josh, Prudence’s life is still unsettled – she spends her days waiting for Sarah while desperately trying to keep the memory of her alive. This part of the story saddened me. I found myself thinking of all the cats whose owners pass away as well as those who are surrendered to shelters. Do they wait months or years for their person to come back, not knowing or understanding that they never will? How long does it take for their memory to fade? Do they eventually forget someone they love?
It doesn’t help that Laura and Josh and going through turmoil of their own and take little notice of the cat. Prudence is fed and has her basic needs met, but there’s no real “relationship.” I wanted to swoop in and hold her, to stroke her fur and help her feel the love she so badly needed. I also wanted to shake the humans and ask them what was wrong with them that they couldn’t see that the cat was a living, breathing being who needed more than just food and water.
Little by little, the humans finally see what we see from the start – that Prudence is an incredibly special cat. We can tell that the cat is “growing” on them, but we don’t get to see just how much they really do care about Prudence until she’s rushed to the vet after eating toxic flowers. The scene in the vet hospital, with Laura desperately begging the cat to live and open her eyes, had me bawling like a baby.
You will probably also cry when you read this book. Parts of it will make you very sad, but other parts will profoundly touch your heart in a good way. And you will also laugh, as when Prudence describes the terror of seeing a giant fake rat on the floor, or explains how the humans try to tame the vacuum cleaner, aka the monster. “It’s trying to find me! It’s not satisfied with just the scraps of my fur – now it wants to eat a whole cat!”
When I finished reading Love Saves the Day, I immediately wanted to re-read it. Prudence, Laura and Josh became cherished friends, and like it is with all those we love, it’s so hard to say goodbye.
Read Love Saves the Day … you’ll be glad you did!
Gwen and Homer photo by Jessica Hills
Read more articles by Julia Williams
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review of the work.