Wednesday 4 October 2023

Minka and Curdy by Antonia White #MinkaAndCurdy @ViragoBooks #ViragoModernClassics @lucy_martin20 #AntoniaWhite #BookReview


One of the most enchanting books about cats ever written, Minka and Curdy describes the adventures - and misadventures - of two very different kittens.

Victoria, a real tyrant of a cat, spent so many years training her owner to be the ideal hostess that Mrs Bell feels it would be disrespectful to replace that formidable creature. But her resolve is worn down, and she finally agrees to take a marmalade kitten - and is immediately offered a Siamese that she also simply cannot resist. This is the story of a writer seduced by the contrasting charms of two kittens: Curdy, lively and mischievous; and Minka, elegant, imperious, and disdainful of the ginger upstart.

Delightfully illustrated with line drawings, this is a witty and charming love letter to feline companionship from the author of Frost in May, and the perfect book for all cat lovers.

Minka and Curdy by Antonia White is published by Virago Modern Classics on 5 October 2023. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Antonia White was devoted to her cats throughout her life. They were her constant companions as she wrote the famous Frost In May Quartet.
In Minka and Curdy, she fictionalised their lives in a brilliant story of the misadventures of two feline friends.
Originally published in 1957 

What an absolute delight this little book is. Beautifully produced by Virago Modern Classics, in hardback and fabulous line drawings throughout the text. 

Anyone who has ever owned a cat will nod in agreement as Mrs Bell talks about her late cat Victoria. There were lines about how Victoria owned Mrs Bell, and demanded certain things that certainly rang true for me, and raised many a chuckle and laugh as I read. 

Victoria is now gone and initially Mrs Bell didn't want another cat. She wanted to pay homage to how special Victoria was. However, her friend persuades her that getting another cat would be the greatest tribute to Victoria, and Mrs Bell agrees. 

She'd really love a Siamese, especially after meeting one in her local bookshop. She's also fond of a marmalade cat. 

Mrs Bell ends up with one of each; the Minka and Curdy of the title. Minka, the Siamese arrived first and when Curdy is introduced to the household, there's a war. Minka is not going to allow any other cat in her house! 

Antonia White's language is probably a little outdated, but it is still exquisite and her understanding of cats and their habits is wonderfully portrayed in this story. It is just a short novel, at 113 pages, and I read it in one sitting, fairly quickly, but totally entranced throughout. 

This would make the perfect gift for any cat lover. A beautiful book, one to treasure. 

Antonia White (1899 - 1980) worked as a journalist from 1924 until the Second World War.

Among numerous volumes of short stories, fiction and autobiography, Antonia White published a celebrated quarter of novels called the Frost In May Quartet which included Frost in  May, The Lost Traveller, The Sugar House and Beyond The Glass. 

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