White Cat-- WHITE CAT BOOKS - inspirational reflective fiction, semi-fiction, non-fiction, about humanity and relationship

inspirational reflective fiction, semi-fiction, non-fiction, about humanity and relationship

WHITE CAT - a not entirely fictional mystery

White Cat… part fiction, but mainly fact… the story of a real family in the turmoil of the last century.

"We are left with [the] impression that we really know the characters at the end, they feel familiar… I really enjoyed this read" - (reviewed in France)
"I really appreciated the choice the author made of this kind of literary technique (letters interspersed with traditional narrative) ... I enjoyed the style of the letters, written more or less in a spoken English, revealing the personalities of the characters."

This family saga begins at the end, with the death of Barbara, the last of her generation and the end of an era, at 104.
She was the custodian of memories and memorabilia from four generations:

her larger-than-life grandfather converted by a Quaker nurse
a father in the Boer War in South Africa
an uncle who mysteriously drowned in the Indian Ocean off the other East London
his African girl-friend and the child he never saw
Barbara’s own paramour a spy in post-war occupied Vienna
and a hero herself in that war.

The reader passes through the abandoned rooms of her house, as the story unfolds by way of narrative and letters creating an immediacy, even intimacy, with the players.

"... a confusion of sets and settings when the action moved, sometimes you could see it but sometimes it was offstage and reported, and then you have to trust the word passed down across the terraces of history, the hardships, the joys, the resentments, the hopes, the terror, the humanity, the resilience... and somewhere back along the way, still tolling, the bourdon bell which marked the tide of war."

Purchase White Cat (paperback or kindle) from Amazon here or online (paperback only) at Sumupstore here

From chapter The Second Room :

He had been sitting in the entrance hall of the Beach Hotel for most of 4 days now. Occasionally he went out, presumably to get some food at one of the stores in the town, and then came back and sat again. Sometimes when he came back there weren’t any seats so he found a coffee table to use, but the management usually objected, moving him outside, and then he sat on the steps of the hotel’s bar on the corner. Only a few people knew, mostly by hearsay, why he was there all the time, but it didn’t make much difference to the way they gave him a wide berth, just like everyone else did. It was clear to almost everyone that he wasn’t a holiday-maker or a tripper like they all were - his clothes gave that away, not so much because of the complete lack of any appropriate formality, though that too of course, but because they were worn and dusty and looked as if they came from somewhere not part of their world, at least not any longer. The occasional person who heard him say the odd word could have noticed his English accent, which might have turned their mind to thoughts of the Empire dealing with the rebellion, but now it was well into 1902 and it was time to move on. (This despite the nightmare having only just ended, for the final agreement had been signed no more than a few days before.) Colonial society down here on the coast had not been that much affected - occasionally a bit close for comfort perhaps, but so quickly it seems the shutters of normality close out yesterday’s troubles.
Sometime, while he was sleeping, his brother’s body was washed up. The police came to his door at 7. At 10, after the identification, he was in the Post Office to send a telegram to his father. Around midday the hotel manager came to his room to tell him that his father was waiting for him on the telephone in his office.

From chapter Conversations... 2 :

“Harry, wake up, wake up.”

She was kneeling on the bed half-dressed. “Harry please, please, wake up. I must tell you something.”

Light filtered through slowly. Should he be at work? No, not this Saturday. We went down to the bar last night, so it couldn’t be today.

“I’m pregnant.”

“It’s too early.”

“Wake up. We are going to have a baby.”

“Whose baby?”

“Our baby. You and me.”

Now he saw her, a smiling face looking down, as he rolled onto his back, realising he was held fast by her arms either side of his head, her hands planted firmly on the pillow.

“I knew this morning. I woke up early. It was there. We know these things. I am Xhosa.”


“She is black. She is a native.” Richard-Symons was not really conscious of whether he had said the words aloud or whether they were just in his head.

“It will be your first grandchild.”

“But these things don’t happen, Frank. Not to us.”

“There are many coloureds here. Peoples have moved around Africa for thousands of years. And not all of them what you call black. There are different nations of native people and then there are Indians and Chinese and Europeans.”

“But that’s Africa.”

“We are in Africa, Father. We are on their land.”

After a long pause his father turned to look him in the face: “Won’t it be difficult, Frank? What will I tell your mother?”

“Mother will know already. I wrote to Louie while you were on your way.”

“But Frank, we didn’t need to tell any…” His voice trailed off as he realised the absurdity and vanity in what he was going to say. He bowed his head, “I’m sorry.”

From chapter Shadowplay :

A couple of days later Hugh took his latest Times article submission into FSS HQ. He needed the censors to vet it before it was transmitted to the newspaper for his ghost-writer to re-draft. His over-arching message was the necessity for collaboration (which had been lacking in the National Council since Herr Koplenig had ceded his position as Vice-Chancellor), but he had framed his argument with the implication that honest efforts at national consensus and cooperation were being thwarted at the level of the National Council. His submission was passed by the censor without alteration and the following day he received notification that this article would be published the following Tuesday.
Two days after its publication Jürgen found him drinking coffee late in the afternoon at another café, one of his regular haunts but not where they had ever met before. Hugh wondered how he knew where to look for him. Was he being followed? If he was he had failed to pick it up.
“Our chairman, Herr Koplenig, has read your latest article and would very much like to show his appreciation in person. He was hoping that we could all meet again this evening. This evening he will have more time and would like to be more hospitable and informal. He suggests that I collect you again in the same way… or, I could collect you at your rooms, more appropriate,” he thought, “for an honoured guest.”
“I would certainly be pleased to accept,” Hugh replied, “but it will be quite ok to meet you in the same way in Rudolfplatz, because I have a brief call to make quite close to there at the end of the afternoon.”
As Jürgen left him, he felt again that relief at having avoided leading anyone to his rooms. But the relief was short-lived: on returning to Grashofgasse, he heard no sound as he stepped (as he always did as a check) on his dislodged stair tread. It took him by surprise. He moved cautiously to his door, and found it double-locked, as he had left it. Once inside, he surveyed the whole room from the door and then walked slowly all around both rooms without touching anything. Nothing amiss, he was thinking, until he saw that his silver pencil was resting the wrong way on his notebook on the table - the lead was pointing away, when, for as long as he could recall he had always placed it with the lead towards - he knew how it felt in his hand as he put it down.
He shuddered. No longer out of reach.

Purchase White Cat (paperback or kindle) from Amazon here or online (paperback only) at Sumupstore here