Books About Cats

Books About Cats

Book Review - A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen
Reviewed by: Emma Bailey - Twitter: @EBaileeyy 

​When my sister urged me some time ago to read ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ by James Bowen, I outright declined, calling her a ‘crazy cat lady’ and declaring that I didn’t even like cats that much - why would I want to read about one? For some reason that I am now slightly ashamed of, I had this preconceived judgement about the book when, in fact, I knew absolutely nothing about it. It wasn’t until I was at the cinema earlier this year and I happened to see a trailer for the film that I realised how wrong I was.

The trailer hooked me instantly. Any British film featuring London is a winner to me and this one happened to feature one of the best parts – Covent Garden. After seeing that it also had a mildly attractive guy with a guitar and that the cat was a big and rather cute-looking ginger tom cat, I knew I had to see it.

Usually, I am one of those people who will refuse to watch the film before the book but, being as I already had a number of titles waiting on my reading list, I decided to go for it. Plus, I had the added reassurance from my sister that the film is different to the book and the book is still worth reading. I can confirm that she is absolutely correct; the film and book complement one another rather well. I read the book almost straight after seeing the film and I loved it just as much, if not more than the film.

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The book is written from James’ perspective and through it he tells his story of how he met Bob and how their lives intertwined and changed for the better. His main focus is, of course, Bob, but James also gives an insight into his past and how he came to find himself on the streets, busking to earn a living. It certainly changes any views you might already have about people who live on the streets. James tells his story with real honesty, which results in an emotional ride for his readers. I found myself laughing and crying throughout each chapter.

As a book generally, it is a light and easy read but, as you’ll notice from other reviews, the editing isn’t of the highest standard. The structure can get slightly repetitive and there are a few grammar issues but if you can overlook that and embrace the story that James is telling, then you’ll be rewarded.

Whilst the book is structured with short memoirs about James and Bob, drifting between James’s past and his escapades with Bob, the film builds more of a story around the pair. We meet James on the streets with nothing, not a morsel of hope and shunned by the world and follow his story as he finds Bob, meets a girl and tries to reconnect with his family. Like the book, the film captures your emotions and toys with them like a cat with string. One moment you’re laughing at Bob’s quirks, the next you’re an emotional wreck. At times, I even found myself loathing humankind and appalled at how heartless some of us can be – the film may be a work of fiction but some of the incidents are painfully believable.

Both the book and the film changed my views of both homelessness and, interestingly, cats. Before, I liked cats and had been thinking of adopting one but wasn’t sure. I wouldn’t have called myself a ‘cat lover’. I know that Bob is definitely a unique and special cat but seeing the impact they had on each other’s lives is heart-warming. You can’t dislike Bob and he’s certainly made me want a cat much more.

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Overall, I can highly recommend both the book and the film. I can’t really advise on which to start with – just make sure you try both! The story of James and Bob is inspirational and heart-warming. It will make you smile, laugh, cry and, most importantly, think: think about how fortunate you are, think about how crazy our world is and think about how important animals are to us, and us to them.

Available from Amazon & other book stores!

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