“After Cleo Came Jonah” by Helen Brown
When Helen Brown lost her young son, Sam, in a road accident, her life was understandably thrown into devastation. Her first book, Cleo, is the true story of how a small, feisty black kitten, pre-picked by Sam before his death, burrowed her way into their lives and pushed the family along the road of healing. It was a book of heart-breaking confessions and heart-warming revelations, which quickly became an international best seller. And it seems I shall have to bring out the box of tissues once again, because Cleo is to be made into a film.
But while I wait for that tear-jerker to reach the screens, I’ve had the satisfaction of Brown’s sequel: After Cleo Came Jonah.
This book picks up where Cleo left off – their beloved cat has passed away at the ripe old age of twenty-four, and Helen is determined to never take another feline into her home.
However, as Helen Brown quotes, it is often thought that one’s old cat will pick their replacement.
Organising her son’s upcoming wedding, struggling to put Cleo’s story to paper, battling breast cancer and trying to cope with her eldest daughter’s decision to become a Buddhist Nun in Sri Lanka, Helen knows that a kitten is the last thing she needs. But then Jonah, a wildly beautiful siamese cat, marches into her life, and things are never to be the same.
All she can wonder is: if cats truly do pick their replacements, what on earth was Cleo thinking?
Admittedly, autobiographies (and indeed, non-fiction books in general) have never been my cup of tea. The only exception was humourist David Sedaris, and so it was that I read Cleo with some amount of scepticism.
I was so very, very wrong.
Helen has a way of drawing you so deeply into her mind that her every anguish cuts you to the core. You genuinely care for her plights and pray for her triumphs. Somehow, she manages to weave a sardonic wit into her writing, masterfully intertwined with the dramatic subject matter. And if you’re a cat-lover like me, you’ll delight in her anecdotes; I know I found myself giggling at the similarities between Jonah and my own darling felines, both past and present.
I can easily say that Cleo and Jonah are two of my very favourite books. So if you’re a cat-lover, a non-fiction-lover, or simply a reader looking for a passionate, emotive journey, then Helen Brown may be right up your alley.
- Love The Bad Guy