ISBN 10: 0007395183
Imprint: HarperCollins – GB
When I was little and even a bit more than little my mother often took me to the movies. Usually we saw Disney films or musicals – our favourites. I’m guessing it was around 1964 and I was eight years old when we went to see The 3 Lives of Thomasina which I adored. Some others of a certain vintage may also remember it with Patrick McGoohan, Susan Hampshire and a very young Karen Dotrice. What I didn’t realise at the time was that it was also a very well known book by a very famous author (despite being a voracious reader). When I did discover the book I fell in love with the story all over again and now have had the great pleasure of receiving this new edition in the Collins Modern Classics series.
Seven year old Mary Ruadh is motherless but has a father who loves her beyond life. Of course she loves him as well, though others find him very cold and often crochety. Alas poor Mr McDhui is the village vet, a thwarted doctor due to family pressures and really he’s not very fond of animals. Especially he is resentful of young Mary’s pet Thomasina, a cat of wisdom for whom the child holds a fierce passion.
When Thomasina falls ill, the vet is in the depths of a crisis trying to save a blind man’s dog and callously tells his assistant to put the cat down. Mary’s grief is boundless and her antagonism towards her father is vengeful and actually cruel as a result.
Yet Thomasina is not dead. She is rescued by a strange young woman who lives in the woods as a hermit and tends to the wild creatures. Thomasina’s second life begins in Lori’s cottage and she feels her previous life as an Egyptian deity is back.
Mary’s intensity of grief is so overwhelming and leads to her falling closer and closer to death from a broken heart. Her father is beside himself and has nowhere to turn until he too discovers the compassionate power that Lori holds.
Fey Lori is the catalyst that will provide healing for father, child and cat.
This is an iconic Gallico book full of magic reality. Love, compassion, trust and faith all play their part in this strange and compelling story.
Gallico wrote over forty books (did you know he wrote The Poseidon Adventure?) and many of them feature similar themes and animals.
This is well worth a re-visit and an introduction to a new generation.
Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.