The Catswold Portal

by Shirley Rousseau Murphy | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 0785717544 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 8/25/2003
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
11 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, August 25, 2003
I found this intriguing hardcover at a library book sale; paid all of fifty cents for the book, so I was vastly entertained to find that it's on the rare side! Luckily for BookCrossers, (a) I like to share my good fortune, and (b) this book's in sufficiently "used" condition that I couldn't get top dollar for it anyway ;-). [I had to do a little work on the binding, but with care it ought to hold up for quite a few more readings.]

The book's an interesting fantasy/romance; not entirely successful, I'm afraid, but a decent effort. The premise: a war is going on in a magical land that's tied to the Real World via special portals, one of which is in the garden of a bereaved artist. [The description of the carved wooden gate decorated with lifelike cats was one of the high points of the book; I want one!] A young woman of the Catswolders - the magic-land race of folk that can change between cat and human at will - has to cross to the mundane world in an attempt to prevent an evil queen from destroying her land, but (of course) complications ensue.

There's a lot of wonderful imagery here; there's also much darkness, and more than a little "cruelty to cats and/or people". Add a rather complicated back history [the existence of which, if not the details, most readers will suspect from the beginning], a surprising number of dropped threads, and a rather hastily wrapped-up ending, and you have a book that (in my opinion) falls short. I don't know if a sequel was planned or not; even if it were, some of the plot-threads that fell by the wayside were more interesting than the ones that were followed through, and I felt a bit frustrated by that. But the cat/human business had its charms, and the dueling magicks were interesting; lots of fantasy-fodder, too, for those so inclined. [The book's a handsome one, btw; the first page of each chapter has the sketch of a cat printed behind the text. The cat on the cover's a Siamese, though, which seems odd since the heroine is a tortoiseshell {grin}.]

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, August 25, 2003
Sending this one out as a bookray. Participants, in mailing order:

nelka35 (NY)
MaryZee (MD)
karendawn (TX)
caligula03 (CA)
SalDragski (TX)
auntiethames (IL)
Zarylia (Poland / Minnesota) [Yes, she's bi-continental ;-)]
Scrawler (Poland)
katayoun (Iran)
LaurieS (NH) [skipped by request]
kymberlie (TX) [no response, skipped]

[Note: at least one of the participants has changed addresses recently; be sure to confirm by PM before mailing the book out, even if you have a previous address for that person.]

This is a moderately hefty hardcover, which will affect postage costs and reading time. I'll be mailing it via media mail, and recommend that you do the same; delivery confirmation is nice but not essential. I'll ask everyone to journal the book when they receive it, and PM the next in line for their address; then read the book reasonably promptly, and once you've read it, journal your comments and pass it along. Hope you all enjoy it!

Journal Entry 3 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, September 02, 2003
Controlled release:

I'm sending this to BCer nelka35 in New York, to kick off the bookray. Hope you enjoy it!

Journal Entry 4 by nelka35 from New York City, New York USA on Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Thanks! I am sorry it took me so long to register it - I have received it a week ago and, being very busy with family issues, didn't even realise that I haven'y journaled it yet until you asked.
I have been reading it, slowly. As you said, it's on the darker side, at least as far as I have read. Will see...

Journal Entry 5 by wingmaryzeewing from Taneytown, Maryland USA on Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Received this in the mail today. I have a couple of other bookrings ahead of it, but will read and pass this on as soon as possible.

1/10 - Starting on this now - will probably take a couple of weeks.

Journal Entry 6 by wingmaryzeewing from Taneytown, Maryland USA on Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Just finished this up. I really enjoyed this, although I don't read much fantasy.
Short chapters made for a quick read, although the book's not very short.

Lots of threads finally came together near the end. I kept wondering why this was set in the 1950's rather than present day. I'm not sure I liked how quickly the story was wrapped up at the end, but all in all an enjoyable tale. I really enjoyed the cat vs. human aspects of this story, and also the descriptions of the Netherworld.

I might check out more by this author.

Thanks, GoryDetails.
Sent on to KarenDawn on Tuesday, 1/27.

Journal Entry 7 by karendawn from Lafayette, Indiana USA on Friday, February 06, 2004
This one just arrived today. I've already read the first two chapters. I'll try to get it back out in the next week or two.

Journal Entry 8 by karendawn from Lafayette, Indiana USA on Friday, February 13, 2004
I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from this book. What I got was a pleasantly surprising, well-told tale of two worlds and a main character caught between both world and two selves, learning among other things how to reconcile those two selves. I also loved getting to see inside a cat's mind (it seemed so right). So I really enjoyed the experience of reading this book. Thank you for sharing!

Journal Entry 9 by karendawn at on Saturday, February 14, 2004
Released on Saturday, February 14, 2004 at Mailed to a fellow Bookcrosser in n/a, n/a Controlled Releases.

On its way to the next in line. :) Enjoy!

Journal Entry 10 by caligula03 from Hayward, California USA on Thursday, February 19, 2004
The book has arrived safe and sound. I'll read it as soon as I can. :)

Journal Entry 11 by caligula03 from Hayward, California USA on Monday, May 24, 2004
I'm glad to see that in the reprint the cover art has been fixed. While the painting on the first edition is well executed it has NOTHING to do with the story. The new cover art is closer to correct, though I would have loved to see the little calico standing in front of the ornately carved blue door rather than inside the tool shed. I guess the door would have been quite difficult to do justice.

I also have to admit that once I was about 1/3 through this book, I realized and remembered that I had read this book when it had first come out (but had forgotten much of the plot). I can recall reading it for the first time in a salon on State Street as a freshman at UCSB. I remember thinking it would be cool to have a calico cat (I now do). And I remember being annoyed by the cover art.

One piece that confused me about the story is the timing of the events. Only until the last chapter and the epilogue is the story given a timeline of 1957 being the "present" but the way San Francisco and Marin are described, pieces of the story feel like they should be taking place either now (late 1990s when the book was written or 2000s if the present was meant to be the near future). Other events make the book seem like it should be taking place in the 1920s or 1930s. I think the biggest sticking point is the mention of an earthquake being strong enough to kill some characters in the back story. San Francisco is known for two big quakes: 1906 and 1989. Of course it turns out that the earthquake in question is completely fictional but I think it would have been better if the timeline could have been wrapped around an actual quake or the city in qusetion moved to a place not so known for two quakes. In other words, I found the odd details distracting at times that I just wanted the plot to take where it wanted to go.

The author though excels at two pieces of this book: her understanding of cats and her ability to describe paintings. It helps that she is an accompished artist in her own right. When she was describing Braden's series of portraits fo Melissa I could see them so clearly! When she was describing the little calico cat, I felt as if she were in the room with me.

Thank you GoryDetails for sharing the book. :)

Journal Entry 12 by caligula03 at on Monday, May 24, 2004
Release planned for Saturday, May 29, 2004 at SalDragski in n/a, n/a Controlled Releases.

Mailing on Saturday.

Journal Entry 13 by SalDragski from San Antonio, Texas USA on Saturday, June 05, 2004
Just received. Will read next.

Journal Entry 14 by SalDragski from San Antonio, Texas USA on Monday, June 21, 2004
I can't believe I finished this book - but I did. The writer has potential but that's about all I can say.

Journal Entry 15 by auntiethames from Rantoul, Illinois USA on Tuesday, June 29, 2004
I received this book in the mail, I had forgot all about it. I don't remember how I accuired my first copy of this book, but I re-read it to complete tatters. I managed to find a second copy, only to be ashamed at forgetting who I loaned it out to! I still have wonderful dreams about this enchanting tail (LOL) about a girl who cannot remember her childhood and her search that reveals more than you would expect! And that Door! What would it take to have one made? I think I read this in about 4 hours total. It was a wonderful break from my boring life, and like visiting old friends! (yes, I have read it toooo many times!)
The magical world of the ancient Celts has always facinated me, and also fairytale stories about cats. The storyline is actually carried on in some of the authors other books. Be sure to check out Cat in the Dark, and Cat to the Dogs. You will soon be a fan of Joe Grey!

Journal Entry 16 by auntiethames from Rantoul, Illinois USA on Friday, November 19, 2004
This book is finally on its way to Amber Lee! I sincerly apologize to those who are patiently waiting for their turn at these pages. I guarantee it was worth the wait, but that does not excuse my procrastination!

Journal Entry 17 by AmberLee17 from Stockton, California USA on Monday, December 06, 2004
This book arrived last week, just as I was coming down with the creeping crud and as my faithful 'puter friend was getting something fried, too. Sorry for the delay in journalling; basically when I had the energy to do so 'puter wasn't cooperative.

Have been looking forward to this book for some time now!

Journal Entry 18 by AmberLee17 from Stockton, California USA on Saturday, January 08, 2005
I had a bit of trouble getting into this book, but once about a third of the way in I couldn't put it down. I did love the regained memories, and the 'melding' into cathood. Could not understand the timeline or some of the dropped story areas. Desperately wanted to bop the editor on the nose for some of the roughness/poor language choices/repetitions in the story. Yet another book that seems several chapters short in the end.

PM sent to next in line for her address. Should be off soon. Thanks for the opportunity to read this.

Journal Entry 19 by Zarylia from Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Warsaw/Poland - I've been looking for this book since the last time I read it in 6th grade in Minnesota, and now it's here! This book is actually the reason I'm a BookCrosser; I googled it and BookCrossing was the first link to come up. You guys have no idea how tempting it is to just pretend it got lost in the mail. ;-P But that's just mean, so hopefully I'll be able to read it soon and then, reluctantly, pass it on to the next person. Thanks for including me!

Journal Entry 20 by Zarylia from Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on Saturday, April 16, 2005
Warsaw/Poland - I've been trying to think of how to journal this for a couple days now and I still haven't come up with the answer. As for the technical merits of the book I would have to agree with the general consensus, it's not the most incredible book ever written, but it is an enjoyable read with some great descriptions. For me this book is more than that though. It took me back to the time when I would sit for hours on end in 'my chair' in the living room, wrapped up in a blanket, book in hand, and cat(s) in lap. This is one of those books that I will always cherish. Thank you for making it a part of my life again. :-D

I will pass it on to Scrawler when I see her next.

Note: auntiethames PM'ed me and informed me that the book has been rereleased! Yay!

Journal Entry 21 by Scrawler on Sunday, May 08, 2005
I have the book, but it may be a little while before i can get down to reading as I am currently msack dab in the middle of my major exams. It's on the top of my TBR list, so I'll get it doen ASAP!

Journal Entry 22 by Scrawler on Monday, July 04, 2005
I'm sorry it's been so long. The book is on its way to Katayoun right now. I was kind of expecting more from this book after the way Zarylia raved about it. It wasn't bad, but not for me, I guess.
Anyway - thanks for sharing, GoryDetails!

Journal Entry 23 by wingkatayounwing from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Friday, August 05, 2005
thanks GoryDetails and Scrawler. the book is here, came on wednesday while we were going away for the weekend and so sorry for the delay and also thanks so much for a very nice weekend read. am halfway through and am enjoying it alot. will be back soon. "cats, books. life is good"!

Journal Entry 24 by wingkatayounwing from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Saturday, August 06, 2005
ok, so now it's only waiting for LaurieS's address. the story was fun, maybe a bit too long for the story it had to tell, and maybe a bit predictable and .... still i like the idea of the catswold alot, loved it if it this idea had a better setting, but all in all an enjoyable read. thanks gorydetails and scrawler.
will make another journal entry as soon as i get lauries's address and mail this book.

Journal Entry 25 by wingkatayounwing from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Monday, August 08, 2005
update: still no answer from LaurieS, i've sent the second pm.

Journal Entry 26 by wingkatayounwing from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Wednesday, August 10, 2005
off on it's way to kitten22, who really likes cat and got atleast one cat god living with her! :)

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.