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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Fifth Life of the Cat Woman » User review

Easily reaches the level of Wow

  • Aug 13, 2010
Rating:
+5
This novel is about a woman who lives alone, inside a mirage, in the mountains of present-day New Mexico.

Kat O'Malley is not your average recluse. Several hundred years ago, O'Malley, then named Josefina, and her brother, Julio, received a gift, or curse, from their mother just before she was killed for being a witch. They were given nine lives, and made part cat. Kat is now on her fifth life. Her other lives did not end well. She was drowned for being a witch, stoned to death for being "too well liked" by cats, and she died in childbirth after giving birth to 13 daughters (not all at the same time).

Today, O'Malley has a justifiable fear of the outside world. She is happy to live with 50 cats, with whom she communicates telepathically. One day, a man named Angelo DiVita arrives at her door; it is actually Julio, her brother, from 400 years ago. He is now headmaster at a local commune/alternative high school. She reluctantly accepts his invitation to teach a history course at the school two days a week. Her only conditions are that she does it her way, and that there are no visitors to the class.

As at any other school, there are those on the Board of Directors who just have to stick their noses where they are not welcome, including one who thinks of herself as some New Age goddess. As the semester goes on, Kat exposes her students to the sort of history that won't be found in any textbook. Her refusal to allow visitors to her class leads to resentment and prejudice on the part of the Board (she won't allow visitors, so, therefore, she must be filling their heads with something evil). Kat has seen this before. When tragedy strikes near the end of the semester, what will become of Kat?

This tale easily reaches the level of Wow. It's very contemporary, with just a little bit of weirdness. The author does a wonderful job throughout, and this is very much recommended.

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About the reviewer
Paul Lappen ()
Ranked #69
I am in my early 50s, single and live in Connecticut. I am a lifelong very, very avid reader and am a freelance book reviewer with my ownblog (http://www.deadtreesreview.blogspot.com). Please visit. It … more
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Wiki

Winner of the Writer's Digest National Self-Publishing Award for Fiction, this debut allegorical novel combines a Southwestern setting with elements of magical realism, in which folkloric characters come to life. The Catwoman ("Kat") fears her present, fifth, reincarnation because her previous lives have ended badly. She dwells inside a desert mirage, alone except for her feline companions, who are wise, adorable, and mad for tuna. When a man stumbles into her refuge, Kat is alarmed, but she soon recognizes her brother from their first, original family. Angelo draws Kat back into the world by offering her a teaching job, convincing her that she can make a difference in the lives of the students. The scenes in which Kat uses her previous life experiences to teach her students are the best in the novel. As in her other lives, Kat is soon confronted by intolerance, and she must decide whether to stand or flee. Some library patrons may be put off by the pagan elements in this pleasant novel and by Kat's budding romance with Angelo. But those who like New Age or visionary fiction may enjoy. For larger fiction and regional collections.
Mary K. Bird-Guilliams, Wichita P.L., KS
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Details

ISBN-10: 0425186180
ISBN-13: 978-0425186183
Author: Kathleen Dexter
Publisher: Berkley Trade

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