Picks and Pans Review: Dear Tabby: Feline Advice on Love, Life and the Pursuit of Mice
by Leigh W. Rutledge
Never ever mind that in the Middle Ages cats were tossed from turrets and viewed as witches' consorts. In Medieval Cats (Bulfinch, $14.95), a gallery of glassy-eyed felines masquerades in scenes of rich pageantry and everyday life.
Artist Susan Herbert duplicates the exquisite detail and sumptuous color of late medieval manuscript illuminations, books of hours and court paintings, embellishing her pictures with rabbits and mice. An animal decked out in peasant garb is one thing, but—holy cat!—Herbert has tails peeking out from monks' robes and halos perched on furry heads. Judging from their pious expressions, though, these kitties mean no disrespect. And what ailurophile could resist a cat in a wimple?
For the more litter-ary, Leigh W. Rutledge dispenses advice under the nom de puss of Dear Tabby (Dutton, $10.95). Both humans and beasts write to her for guidance, often concerning the other's vexing behavior. Cats inquire how to protest names like Meow Tse-tung and Evita Purron (Tabby suggests, "Jump on top of the TV and pee"). People want to know why their cats stare at them. ("They're expert judges of character, and it's possible you're harboring a guilty secret.")
Tabby occasionally unsheathes her claws. Accused of bashing a certain species, she retorts, "It seems to me that if humans spent more time chasing their tails and playing with their houseplants, the world would be a saner place." Meouch!
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