A warm, incredibly moving, often funny book about love, loss and redemption and the small black cat who helped mend a family's broken hearts by sheer force of her feline personality.
Helen Brown wasn't a cat person, but her nine-year-old son Sam was. So when Sam heard a woman telling his mum that her cat had just had kittens, Sam pleaded to go and see them.
Helen's heart melted as Sam held one of the kittens in his hands with a look of total adoration. In a trice the deal was done - the kitten would be delivered when she was big enough to leave her mother.
A week later, Sam was dead. Not long after, a little black kitten was delivered to the grieving family. Totally traumatised by Sam's death, Helen had forgotten all about the new arrival. After all, that was back in another universe when Sam was alive.
Helen was ready to send the kitten back, but Sam's younger brother wanted to keep her, identifying with the tiny black kitten who'd also lost her brothers. When Rob stroked her fur, it was the first time Helen had seen him smile since Sam's death. There was no choice: the kitten - dubbed Cleo - had to stay.
Kitten or not, there seemed no hope of becoming a normal family. But Cleo's zest for life slowly taught the traumatised family to laugh. She went on to become the uppity high priestess of Helen's household, vetoing her new men, terrifying visiting dogs and building a special bond with Rob, his sister Lydia, Helen - and later a baby daughter.
Helen Brown was born and brought up in New Zealand. After attending school in New Plymouth she studied journalism in Wellington where she became a cadet reporter with The Dominion.
After meeting and marrying a Brit, Helen lived in England briefly before returning to New Zealand and having two sons, Sam and Rob. She became a popular columnist for The Dominion and her first book had recently been published when Sam was run over and killed. In the terrible aftermath of Sam's death, Cleo came into the family's life, helping them begin to heal. After the birth of her daughter, Lydia, Helen's marriage broke up and she moved to Auckland to work for the Auckland Star as a feature writer and columnist.
Helen met and married Philip Gentry in 1991. Their family, including their young daughter, Katharine, (not to mention Cleo) moved en masse to Melbourne in 1997, though Helen continues to write columns for the New Zealand media, where she's been voted Columnist of the Year several times. Mu