Avoid tears with Bono
Bono: the rescue cat who helped me find my way home by Helen Brown reviewed by Miss Moneypenny, Hastings District Libraries
Like many New Zealand women, I have been reading Helen Brown’s columns about everyday life since the 1980s. However when in 2010 she penned her bestselling memoir Cleo: how an uppity cat helped heal a family I deliberately avoided reading it. Even though the memoir received rave reviews I wasn’t brave enough to read how her family dealt with the devastating loss of their nine-year-old son and brother. I continued my avoidance with her sequel, After Cleo: came Jonah — how a crazy kitten and a rebelling daughter turned out to be blessings in disguise, just in case this too was a tear-jerker.
And then it was announced that Helen Brown was coming to the Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival Readers and Writers programme along with her latest book on a rescue cat called Bono. Putting on my big girls pants I sat down to read a lovely cat story because surely this wasn’t to be another emotional read that would leave tears streaming down my face.
In this memoir Ms Brown is having a loss of confidence in her life. She has a perfectly good life in suburban Melbourne with husband, children and grandchildren. But could she be getting more out of life — maybe a wee bit of excitement in, say, New York? So seizing an opportunity, leaving husband and highmaintenance Jonah (the cat) behind she heads off to New York. There is a catch to this new lifestyle — Ms Brown is convinced to foster a homeless cat with a lifethreatening disease. Hoping to temporary adopt a lovely quiet snuggler she is dismayed to discover that Bono is a feisty rock star who hides under the bed and avoids any human contact.
Helen Brown’s engaging tale of woman and cat learning to live together is both funny and emotional. She has a remarkable ability to expose her life without revealing the secrets and confidences of those around her. I couldn’t help but be drawn into her life, especially when it looks like we both might own the same electric blue jacket.
This is not just a story of a woman living alone on the other side of the world, or even a story about an endearing rescue cat who everyone loves, but a story about being honest with your hopes and dreams and making each day a good one because you are in it. And yes… it did make me cry.
Helen Brown will be sharing her stories at the MTG Century Theatre on Saturday 20 October 10am during her Readers and Writers session called Finding my way home.