Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour

Recently I needed some comfort food type of reading. Fluffy, non challenging reads. So it was utterly appropriate and timely that I plucked the pastel hued The Adventures of Miss Petitfour from my TBR.

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour is the first childrens book by Canadian novelist and poet Anne Michaels. I remember meaning to read her Fugitive Pieces back in the day, but don't think that I ever did. 

Miss Petitfour is a young crazy cat lady. She lives in a small cottage with her 16 cats! Yes, 16 cats. I'm not quite sure why she needed to have 16 cats, no plot point ever depended on all 16 cats being present- it could all have been achieved with four or five cats. And every time the cats came into the story all 16 names were listed, over and over again. It was very boring, quite tedious and totally unnecessary, and I found myself skimming the four or five lines it took to list all the crazy cat lady cat names. 

But the 16 cats is a minor quibble I guess. I really enjoyed Miss Petitfour and her Adventures.  Miss Petitfour just happens to use tablecloths to fly about her village to go to the shops, while trailing 16 cats. The Adventures are very gentle and rather domestic on the whole- running out of marmalade, losing a stamp (and BTW a  Penny Black is a real thing, the first adhesive stamp used in a public postal system, released in Britain on 1 May 1840), or clearing out the closets. 

Some adventures are so small, you hardly know they've happened. Like the adventure of sharpening your pencil to a perfect point, just before it breaks and that little bit gets stuck in the sharpener. That, I think we will all agree, is a very small adventure. 

Other adventures are so big and last so long, you might forget they are adventures at all- like goring up. 
And some adventures are just the right size- fitting into a single, magical day. And these are the sorts of adventures Miss Petitfour had. 

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour is whimsical and charming. There is wonderful wordplay, there's not enough books of any sort using words like rickrack, gesticulating and furbelow anymore. Or "the tiny sound of whiskers being licked clean". Although all of the digressions did get a little much, I like to think that maybe somewhere cats do play badminton and wonder if I should take up singing sea shanties while I clean my teeth. I shall try to divide people (and cats) by their predisposition to like circles (donuts, biscuits, pancakes) or lines (sausages, french fries, linguine and liquorice ropes).

I was somewhat hesitant going in as I remembered that my friend Brona hadn't liked Miss Petitfour and her Adventures, and whilst I do take her points, I found it a perfect antidote to my week. 


Brona said...

Your list of 'meaning to read' books is very impressive Louise! I really hope you get the time to sit down and enjoy them all one day.

I had completely forgotten everything I said about this book - so thank you for the shout out. And I'm glad that you enjoyed it more unreservedly than I did. Perhaps I wasn't it the right mood to receive this story after all.

Lovely to see that your reading/blogging mojo has returned too :-)

Louise said...

Thanks Brona. I hope I can keep the mojo coming, like everyone time is the thing. I think it's funny that I remembered you review of this book more than you did!

Allison said...

Sometimes one needs a light-hearted book. This one sounds like a good option!

Too bad the author hadn't given more purpose to Miss Petitfour having a large number of cats. There are cat rescuers with that many, and they do a wonderful job of both caring for the cats and finding them homes.