I am a huge lover of cats so for me to want to read this was an absolute must. I have to say I was not disappointed.
What a lovely, thoughtfully written, tender story - told by the only cat to have ever won a Medal for Animal Bravery. Simon is a delightful cat who has lots of adventures and plenty of scary moments. The story is written in such a way that it is easy to believe that the cat is telling it and we get totally wrapped up in his thoughts, emotions and how he sees the world.
Based on a true story, it is astonishing to hear how a stray cat can be so brave in the face of war and everything that is thrown at him. How he makes friends with the ships dog, misses his brother who is killed by their enemy and manages, despite his fears, to rid the ship of rats. He makes friends with the sailors on board and raises their morale during the dark days when they are stranded in the Yangtze River.
The ending had me in tears - despite the fact that this all happened many years ago and Simon is long gone. It was a lovely tribute to such a brave cat, the likes of which will probably never been found again.
If you are an animal lover- especially of cats - then you will simply adore this brilliant novel.
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4 September 2015
The first chapter, the "Now", nearly stopped me in my tracks. I dreaded facing finding out how we got there. But I continued and became drawn into this generous, naïve little person's account of survival, the minute by minute physical and psychological survival. The simplicity and complexity of a creature who holds the right to life as a moral imperative, even when starving, who strives to understand and rationalise the depths of horror and yet who never, thankfully, loses his capacity to care.
Read this and review your own position in this world.
Read this and review your own position in this world.
6 people found this helpfulComment
13 March 2015
I enjoy historical books and I love cats so this was most definitely a book for me. The book is deeply moving, all the more so, as it is based on actual events. The story is skilfully told from Simon’s perspective and draws the reader into the cat’s view of the world on board the Amethyst. We see Simon’s character develop and grow. I particularly liked his enduring friendship with Peggy, the ship’s dog, who became his partner in crime. He endears himself to the sailors on the Amethyst who enjoy watching his antics. He wins over the captain as well and even sleeps in his cap. ‘If I sleep in the Captain’s cabin in his round white and gold hat – in my hat – the pictures I have when I close my eyes are mostly nice’ The Amethyst is sent up the Yangtze to deliver supplies but is fired on by the Chinese Liberation Army. Many sailors are killed and Simon is badly injured. The description of the incident from the animal’s viewpoint is truly superb and brings the horror vividly to life. Simon is badly injured in the incident and never fully recovers from the trauma. However during the time the Amethyst is trapped in the Yangtze Simon continues to be a much loved companion to the sailors and to do his job as ‘rat catcher’ to the best of his ability. He even wins over the heart of McCunnell. ‘Then I feel his hand on my head. Soft...Smoke...Sailors falling...’ The Amethyst did eventually make it to freedom and sailed home. Simon was awarded the Dickin Medal and earned the title of Able Seaman Simon. Thanks to Jacky Donovan who gave this heroic little cat a voice and let him speak to us. In this way he will never be forgotten. This is a truly memorable book and one which I would recommend most highly – read it but do have a supply of tissues to hand!
9 March 2015
I really felt I was seeing everything from the viewpoint of Simon, the young stray cat. I soon fell in love with him and was cheering (and crying) for the brave little cat, from the death of his protective big brother, through his adoption by George and his acceptance on the ship, to the horrors he endured during the Yangtze Incident, his own battle with the rats and his stay in quarantine. The ports of Hong-Kong and Singapore were brought vividly to life, as was life on Simon's ship, HMS Amethyst. I also loved the character of Peggy and her distinct way of talking. We had action, suspense, humour, sadness and tragedy as Simon's story on the HMS Amethyst is told. We also had a little philosophy as man's inhumanity to man (and animals) was revealed, and yet so too was the bravery and self sacrifice many showed when tragedy struck. All this is made more powerful and heart breaking when we're reminded by the photographs that this story is a true one. Loved it and cried a lot.
1 May 2017
It is many years ago that I became aware of Simon of HMS Amethyst and the fact that he was awarded the animal's VC the Dickin medal. I have just finished reading Jacky Donovan's excellent book and have enjoyed it tremendously. In fact I have to admit that at times I have been brought to tears by the author's descriptions of certain incidents within the book, in particular Simon's sad demise in quarantine. I have given this book five stars because I consider it has been extremely well written and I recommend it to my friends as an excellent description of the Yangtse Incident from Simon's point of view.
30 January 2016
I did enjoy this book. It is written through the eyes of Simon, and therefore from a cats view things are not as we would know them, but it was easy to interpret what he means. He did have an active and adventurous life. As a true story, life can bring turmoil and danger especially during war time. His friendship with Peggy the ships dog was really nice. I was sad at the end, but due to being true it had to relate to life. I was pleased to read that Simon was awarded the Dicken Medal for his services to his shipmates. The only cat to date that has ever received one.
29 May 2018
I loved this story! Lots of highs and lows, a wonderful true story everyone should read. You really feel as though you are in Simons world following him in his journey. A sad and unexpected ending but lovely to see his memory lives on.
3 people found this helpfulComment
15 May 2018
Just finished reading this amazing book. Towards the end I was in floods of tears.couldnt hold them back. If you love cats as I do you will really be Inspired by everything he did to get rid of the numerous rats on board ship who were eating their way through the ships rations when there was very little food to go round. Can’t recommend this book enough. Loved it..