Avoid tears with Bono

Hastings Leader - - News -

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.

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