The Writer’s Cats by Muriel Barbery, Illustrated by Maria Guitart, Translated by Alison Anderson @BelgraviaB #TheWritersCats #BookReview

The Writer’s Cats by Muriel Barbery

Originally published: 19 October 2021

Author: Muriel Barbery

Published by: Gallic

Length: 80 pages

Reading dates: 26-27 October 2021

A new book reveals that the internationally acclaimed bestselling author Muriel Barbery, best known for The Elegance of the Hedgehog (10 million copies sold worldwide) is not the sole author of her books, but receives immense editorial input on this and her other titles from an unusual source: her four Chartreux cats.

These elegant grey-furred and amber-eyed felines (who match Barbery’s exquisite home décor), not only keep the author company as she works from her house in the French countryside, but have a substantial input into her writing, flicking aside sections of manuscript with a disdainful tail here, pointing an approving paw at others, and chewing a page that they feel needs reworking. Now Kirin, Ocha, Mizu and Petrus –named after Barbery’s love of all things Japanese and good wine – want royalties and recognition, and to that end have penned their own jaw-dropping tell-all book.

With delicious wit and irony, the international bestselling author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog gives an entertaining portrait of a writer’s life avec chats – and the paws behind the pen. Accompanied by delightful illustrations by Maria Guitart.

The Writer’s Cats is quite an unusual story – it tells us about the life of the writer Muriel Barbery but is in fact written from the point of view of her four Chartreux cats who according to them have a huge influence on her life and her writing. They talk about the other people in her life – her agent and husband, her home décor which is grey and orange like the cats themselves, her love of all things Japanese and the fact that her writing is greatly improved by their input which they think she hasn’t noticed. The cats will chew on the pages of writing they don’t think is good enough and in extreme cases will even fart on the offending lines!

First of all, let me make one thing clear: we like our writer. She’s kind. She never forgets our mealtimes. She doesn’t scream when she sees a dead mouse. Se throws bottle corks to us (our favourite game at aperitif hour) while she’s drinking wine (which is not infrequently). She takes us to the vet the minute we fart out of tune. We really do like her.

But enough is enough.

Illustrated throughout in orange and grey hues, I really liked the pictures throughout and those combined with narration from the cats makes for a lovely charming and humorous story, which looks at the writing process from a very different viewpoint. I certainly think The Writer’s Cats is a must buy for cat lovers everywhere.

Thank you to Gallic Books for my review copy.

About the author:

Muriel Barbery

Muriel Barbery is a former lecturer in philosophy and the bestselling author of IMPAC-shortlisted novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Published in France in 2006 and in the UK in 2008, it has gone on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide and has been described by Le Figaro as ‘the publishing phenomenon of the decade’. She has lived in Kyoto, Amsterdam, and Paris, and now lives in the French countryside with her husband and four Chartreux cats.

Maria Guitart was born in Barcelona. She holds a degree in Art History from the University of Barcelona and a certificate of Higher Technical Education in Illustration from the Massana School of Art and Design. Currently, she combines her job as an illustrator with work as an editor of international fiction.


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