What does local author Linda Marchman have in common with T.S. Eliot, Taylor Swift, and Ed Sheeran? Love of cats, of course! If you enjoyed the musical Cats or its new movie version, you may also enjoy Marchman’s latest book Lost and Found Cats: True Tales of Happy Reunions, self-published in November 2019. The book is a collection of true stories—many of them local— of cats who went missing but later returned or were found, some as long as ten years later! Each story—from Crozet’s own Bluto, who hung out on the railing of Three Notch’d Grill; to Tigger, who survived the California wildfires; to Marchman’s own Ali cat, who was hiding inside the whole time that her humans searched outside!—pairs the cat’s experiences with the unflagging efforts of his/her devoted humans to find their fur baby.
As Marchman explains in the final chapter, “How to Find Your Missing Cat,” cats may slip out a briefly opened door, bolt when frightened by a loud noise such as fireworks, or even be catnapped. Among her many tips for finding them are a recommendation to microchip your cat, a reminder to always check the local animal shelter for your missing cat, and the admonition to never give up!
Marchman, who grew up in Northern Virginia, began rescuing cats at an early age. When in fifth grade a neighbor gave her a kitten, she hid it in her upstairs bedroom closet for weeks—complete with food, water, and a litter box—until her father discovered the guest and returned it to the neighbor. She has lived with 45 cats and one dog during her lifetime—which included work in education, arts, and financial planning. She is a member of the Cat Writers’ Association and also runs her own butterfly breeding business, which sells live butterflies during the summer for release at events (socialbtrflies.com). This is Marchman’s third book, following the warm and fuzzy (pun intended) Gone Astray (2013) and Silent Meow (2017) www.felinefiction.com. A portion of the proceeds of each book sold is donated to cat rescue organizations.
For a soulful, sensitively written memoir, pick up a copy of comes with furniture and people by Charlotte Matthews, launched at Over the Moon Bookstore on December 15. The title refers to a doll house advertisement, but also suggests the alienation of the author’s childhood with a single, deeply depressed mother who avoids closeness. Even while dying of leukemia, her mother (called Mommy throughout the book) holds the author and her brother at arm’s length. Matthews only discovered four years after her mother’s death that she had grown up and played in the dirt on a World War I bomb testing site. Matthews’ poem about this painful discovery is included in the text.
Matthews is a poet and professor in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program at the University of Virginia who has led writing workshops for those dealing with cancer (Crozet Gazette May 2017). Her books of poetry include Green Stars (2005), Still Enough to Be Dreaming (2007), and Whistle What Can’t Be Said (2016). Her memoir is an impressionistic collection of memories from growing up in Washington, DC—including fireworks over the Washington monument, the pealing of bells from the National Cathedral, a sleepover with Amy Carter, and watching presidential motorcades pass beneath her window. The book also chronicles Matthews’ own experience with stage three breast cancer, mastectomy, and single motherhood. The author’s present and past are artfully woven into a gentle, reflective whole, while her vivid, lyrical writing reflects her calling as a poet.