The Lighthouse, The Cat, and The Sea

Russell Hoban

The Lighthouse, The Cat, and The Sea.

“Call me Mrs. Moore -- though why you should call me that I am not certain; the name was given to me long before I could add my counsel or consent.  I certainly was not a kitten bride. Indeed, I have never been betrothed to anyone.  So why I should be burdened all my life with a name denoting matrimony is a mystery to me.”

Such are the thoughts of Mrs. Moore, the main character in this month’s literary offering, a small and charming novel entitled The Lighthouse, The Cat, and The Sea.  Mrs. Moore is a cat, born on the schooner Estella Gomez, as that vessel sailed the straits of Florida in the year 1899. Her adventures are beautifully chronicled by writer Leigh Rutledge, and tell a tale of shipwreck and rescue, of childhood and growing up, and love and loss, and being found again.

Mrs. Moore is a cat of rare distinction, a feline philosopher, and most appreciative of the small boy, Griffin, who rescues her and her siblings following the wreck of the Estella Gomez in a hurricane.  Griffin and his widowed mother, Mary, and older sister, Ada, live in the keeper’s quarters of a lighthouse on Key West, his mother having assumed the job of keeper on the death of her husband.  Just as Mary Bishop climbs the lighthouse stairs to tend the lens and gaze out over the ocean, so Mrs. Moore climbs, as well, though her outposts are different than Mrs. Bishop’s.

“A palm tree is an exasperating thing to a cat.  One can go up, one can go down -- there is nowhere else to climb.  No higher branches to explore.  No gnarled boughs that reach like twisting roads into cool and green hideaways.  It is like a flagpole, or a topmast.  Still, at such a height, the sea breeze, especially when it comes from the southeast, from the islands of the Caribbean, is soft and hypnotic and smells sweet like freshly cleaved mango.  And the view is often worth the ascent.  There are few lookouts more satisfying than the heart of a palm tree.  Though one must always be on guard against coconut rats, unexpected gusts of wind, and idle children with rocks.”

The idle children with rocks make no headway against the indomitable Mrs. Moore, and she lives a long life of adventure, sorrow, happiness, and hope, in this lovely little book, accompanied always by her rescuer, Griffin.  Be sure to read all about it in The Lighthouse, The Cat, and The Sea.

Copyright © 2003, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.