Gallico graduated from Columbia University in and first achieved notice in the s as a sportswriter , sports columnist, and sports editor of the New York Daily News. Gallico described how it felt to be knocked out by the heavyweight champion. He became one of the highest-paid sportswriters in America. He founded the Golden Gloves amateur boxing competition. Career as a fiction writer[ edit ] In the late s, he abandoned sports writing for fiction, first writing an essay about this decision entitled "Farewell to Sport" published in an anthology of his sports writing, also titled Farewell to Sport , and became a successful writer of short stories for magazines, many appearing in the then-premier fiction outlet, The Saturday Evening Post.
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When I did, I found myself appreciating it more as I got older, and remembered that it was mostly for the gorgeous cat on the front, plus feeling sorry that so many old books were being sold, that got me this tale. Jennie follows the tale of two cats, and mostly focuses on the viewpoint of Peter.
Peter is an eight year old boy who yearns for a cat to make up for a mother with little time for him, a caring Nanny who hates felines and a father in the army. After an accident, Peter finds himself transformed into a white cat and kicked out of his home by his Nanny.
The once friendly streets of London turn into something terrifying, especially when at the end of his energy he is beaten by the aggressive Dempsey. Fortunately, he is rescued by stray tabby Jennie, who learns of his true human origins and agrees, despite her hatred of humans, to teach him the ways of the cat.
If you can get over this though then settle down for a beautifully written story. It also deals with some really adult themes, including love, death, fear and fate. The real charm of this book is, of course, its cat perspective. Nevertheless, this is a true tale of friendship. Unlike other stories that grab you around the throat and pull you in, Jennie never does that. This is more of an adventure: our hero suddenly finding himself as a cat and must learn how to fend for himself.
It is more of a personal journey as Peter grows up during its course and Jennie learns to value human company again. There could be no other ending to this tale that was so heart wrenchingly sweet. His adoration for cats serves him in good stead in the end, making him more than willing to learn from Jennie. As the story progresses, he becomes more assertive and leader like, and his affection for Jennie becomes almost love.
There are moments when I doubt this, especially where a certain Lulu is concerned, but in terms of life lessons, bravery and cat perspectives, Peter has it all. Likewise Jennie is a great character.
Shrewd, patient and usually in control, while also possessing a level of fun, proud of her heritage and a love of compliments aimed at herself, Jennie is of course very cat like. Her backstory explains why she hates humans, but her experiences with Peter, especially where Mr.
Grims is concerned, do change her perspective. She makes a lot of sacrifices for him, and yet when she makes mistakes, depends on Peter all the more and grows really affectionate of him. The supporting cast are great too, although a solid focus is always on Jennie and Peter. The cats range from the homed, such as the polite Mr Black, to the various strays, such as the foreign cats Putzi and Mutzi, and the ones in between like the bizarre Lulu. Gallico really gets down on cat level to produce a London where almost everything could be a danger, from weather, other cats, dogs, human boots, transport and children.
I think my favourite description goes to a bombed out house, which is both simple yet teeming with life. All in all, Jennie is a hidden gem. The cat perspective is wonderful, it is a true adventure filled with some very adult themes, Peter and Jennie are an absolute joy of a double act, the pacing matches the simplicity felt and the descriptions are really grounded in reality.
Jennie by Paul Gallico: A review
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Jennie by Paul Gallico
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