waltzing-the-cat-pam-houston-cover-199x300Reviewed by Holly Madison

Waltzing the Cat is a collection of several short stories that can either stand on their own or be read all together. There were some stories that I really loved, and others that I did not care for as much, but most chapters had at least one element in them that I enjoyed.

The main character, Lucy, takes us on a journey that starts out with her ongoing search for a man (or should I say, the RIGHT man) that follows her from one potential candidate to another. One of the things that stuck out the most for me was that Lucy has a series of encounters that feel a little bit far fetched such as her ability to expertly navigate white water rapids, survive a storm on the ocean, inherit a ranch out of nowhere, and have a job that pays her to travel all over the world. Some of her relationships were also difficult to relate to because they felt a little bit unrealistic, such as her instant friendship with perfect strangers who she was able to confide in after only one or two meetings. I would have liked to have seen more in terms of the development of relationships, but this would have been difficult to do in only one short story at a time.

Throughout the book, Pam Houston covers a wide variety of topics that range from childhood abuse to journeying down the Amazon river, and most of the stories carry an element of one romantic relationship or another. The best story, for me, was the ending. It went beyond the laugh-out-loud tales in the rest of the book and took a very deep look inside of Lucy’s past, and the wording was both beautiful and tear-jerking. The one criticism I have about this chapter was that it did not feel like it fit in well with the rest of the book, but as a stand-alone story I really enjoyed it. I also really loved that these stories could make me cry one moment and laugh the next, such as the title chapter where Houston addresses Lucy’s estranged father and his unnatural bond with the cat. It was interesting reading about dark topics while looking at them from a comical point of view, and that is something that Pam Houston seems to excel at.

I was happy that Lucy was alone in the end of the book, because it showed that she might not have found the right man, but she found herself in the process of searching. I also adored the story about the dog that Lucy saved, and was moved by the relationship they formed with each other. Overall I would say that this was a good book that I enjoyed reading and one that I will likely read again, but it did not make it to my favorites shelf.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Holly is a digital artist and an environmental scientist. She also participates in parrot and exotic animal rescue.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by W. W. Norton & Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.