Book Review: Cat Lady by Dawn O’Porter

I have loved Dawn’s previous writing – fiction and non fiction – and would consider myself a fan, following her on Instagram and subscribing to her Patreon page. So when I saw she had a new book out, I jumped at the chance to review it – and Net Galley sent me an advance review copy.

Here’s the blurb:

Single, independent, crazy, aloof, on-the-shelf, lives alone . . .
It’s safer for Mia to play the part that people expect. She’s a good wife to her husband Tristan, a doting stepmother, she slips on her suit for work each morning like a new skin.
But beneath the surface, there’s another woman just clawing to get out . . .
When a shocking event shatters the conventional life she’s been so careful to build, Mia is faced with a choice. Does she live for a society that’s all too quick to judge, or does she live for herself?
And if that’s as an independent woman with a cat, then the world better get ready . . .
Fresh, funny and for anyone who’s ever felt astray, CAT LADY will help you belong – because a woman always lands on her feet.

Now I have to say that I got off on the wrong foot with this book for a couple of reasons.

Firstly – I am allergic to cats. It’s not that I don’t like them – but I can’t go near them without feeling really poorly. There is a paragraph basically dissing anyone who doesn’t adore cats – so I was immediately defensive.

Secondly – very early in the book it is ‘Mother’s Day’ – but Mia is going to work and her stepson to school – which clearly doesn’t happen on Mothering Sunday in the UK where the book is set. I did give Dawn the benefit of the doubt as I know she lives in the US and I wasn’t sure if Mother’s Day could be on a weekday over there – but having checked, seemingly not. Therefore this is just a straight error. It seemed really odd that neither the author or editor would have picked up on this? It’s not 100% fundamental to the story, it could easily have been tweaked to still fit in the plot lines without it having to be changed. I initially thought I was being petty – but it would appear many other ARC readers on Net Galley felt the same!

So – a few pages in and I didn’t have high hopes – however, I did get more into the book as it went on and so am not going to be totally negative about it I promise!

Mia is clearly struggling in many aspects of her life – and all of them seem quite compartmentalised – her role as wife and step mother at home (although she doesn’t share a bedroom with her husband, as she prefers to sleep with her cat ‘Pigeon’), her work – where she loathes her ‘boss’ and appears to dislike most of her staff, her relationship with her sister (and non existent relationship with her brother in law), and her attendance at a pet bereavement group – despite Pigeon being alive and well.

I have to say I didn’t particularly like any of the characters – so I wasn’t Team Mia – but equally wasn’t Team Anyone Else. I would also say the overwhelming feeling for me wasn’t ‘fresh, funny’ but actually probably ‘unusual, sad’.

The story skips along – and has the standard SHOCK moment that I’ve come to expect from Dawn’s fiction books.

The second half of the book I found quite odd. Like chapters had been written at completely separate times and didn’t really link properly. It was just a bit weird and I felt didn’t flow.

As well as the whole Mother’s Day debacle, there are loads of homophone errors throughout the book that hopefully will be picked up before printing.

I didn’t hate the book – and wanted to keep reading to see what happened – but it’s definitely not my favourite Dawn O’Porter book and I guess I had high hopes. It’s out in October 2022 if you’re interested in ordering it.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.