A few months ago I was lucky enough to win the book Enchanting Lily by Anjali Banerjee from the superb blog, The Conscious Cat which is written by the brilliant Ingrid King and her cats, Ruby and Allegra.
The minute the book arrived I was smitten by the exquisite white cat who possessed dual-colored eyes that graced the cover.
I settled down with a cup of coffee for what I knew would be a good read. I wasn't disappointed.
The quote on the first page of the book sets the stage for what is to come:
"The past scampers like an alley cat through the present, leaving the paw prints of memories scattered helter-skelter."
-Charles De Lint, The Onion Girl
The story opens with "Kitty" a neighborhood stray, (or WAS she?) stopping during her usual travels to take a closer look at the yellow cottage. She senses that someone will soon be arriving, and though that "someone" doesn't realize it yet, she will be moving into the cottage, opening a re-sale shop and will be affected by this ethereal white cat with the dual-colored eyes more than she could imagine.
That "someone" is Lily Byrne. A 30-almost-40 year old widow who is attempting a new start. Her husband Josh was killed in a car accident just barely a year before.
Seeking a new beginning, Lily leaves San Francisco. Lily drives north, finally ending up on "Shelter Island." (the metaphoric name of this Island did not escape me.)
She stops in a coffee shop and the young barista places a chocolate espresso bean on the lid of her cup and tells her it is "the magic bean". (I couldn't help but think of Jack and the Beanstalk ) He tells Lily if "she eats the bean anything can happen." " Your wildest dreams fulfilled." Lily ate the bean and "feeling a bit silly, she waited a moment for the magic to take effect, but nothing happened."
Lily and her inner demons and memories take to the road which leads her to the "yellow cottage" "the cottage of her imagination."
Lily must overcome "the paw prints of memories scattered helter-skelter". While going about her daily tasks, she often imagines that she sees Josh, that she can feel him, hear him and is tormented by the prospect of Josh being hurt if she were to begin dating other men.
Lily's memories aren't the only ones that must be dealt with in this book. The clothing in her consignment shop is fraught with spirits and stories. She meets Ben, the handsome veterinarian, who must come to terms with his feelings and his own memories of his flighty wife. Ben's daughter, Bish, must face and contend with memories of her own.
Ever present throughout this story is "Kitty", the white cat with the dual-colored eyes. "Kitty", the "neighborhood stray" who one senses when reading about the spirit sightings in this book, might just be a spirit herself. A spirit sent to bring customers to Lily's shop, to help them find just the right article of clothing. A spirit sent to soothe Lily's aching heart and to help chase away her haunting memories of Josh. A spirit that offers love and healing in a way that only cats are capable of offering. A spirit that KNOWS the outcome of this story better than Lily, Ben or Bish ever could. Why? Because one strongly senses that it was "Kitty" who made it possible for Lily to meet everyone that she meets in this story.
As Ben said in Enchanting Lily: "Cats bring us down to earth, force us to reevaluate our priorities."
Cats make you want them, need them and fall in love with them, even when you have no intentions of doing so. Did "Kitty" make the same happen for Lily and Ben?
What about the "magic bean?" Did what the barista promised Lily about her "wildest dreams being fulfilled" come to fruition?
You will have to read this gem to find out.
BUY THE BOOK