With an introduction by Lord Mouser-Hunt, this is the journal of Mrs Chippy, the cat who accompanied the carpenter Harry "Chippy" McNeish on the Shackleton's "Endurance" expedition in 1914.
In a way Mrs. Chippy's account, built from references of all the other journals, speaks for those also marginalized and also only known through footnotes. McNish spent 28 hours toiling in waist deep frigid water to build a coffer dam in an attempt to hold back the water in the beginning of the end for the Endurance. Do we remember his name? Perce Blackborow, young and desperate for adventure, stowed away and worked hard as ships steward, assisted and filled in for the cook when he fell injured. Do we remember his name? Louis Rickinson and A.J. Kerr, ships engineers, worked at the boilers below decks, even as the ice pressing the hull made all manner of horrible and terrifying noises. Do we remember their names? Through Mrs. Chippy's eyes we catch a glimpse of all the crew, in their bravery and their humanity.
Lastly, any who would question the character or depth of relationship between even the hardened explorer and the ships cat, consider the following: Commander Frank Worsley, the Captain of the Endurance, chose the photo of Chippy and Blackborow that adorns the cover of this book as one of the few he published. ALL the diaries of the members of the expedition had descriptions of Chippy. Let me close with this quote from the poet Christopher Smart from his ode to his cat, Jeoffry: For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary. For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes. For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
We are shielded from Chippys final fate, the journal ends on October 29th. Chippy perished the next afternoon. Remember Chippy, and remember all those whose story is recorded in footnotes.
I love this book, which I read in almost in one sitting, as it detailed the adventures of Mrs Chippy over the period of a year. The characters, not only of Mrs Chippy and his mate, but of all on board the Endurance at the start of that fateful expedition are all brought lividly to life. You can almost breath the freezing Antartic air! Read this book, enjoy the sights and smells and the sounds that Mrs Chippy reports. This is a brilliant book.
It is not just a book for someone that likes cats, although the humour will no doubt be more familiar to those readers that are cat owners! I particularly loved the photos contained in the book as well as the factual accounts of what happened to the Endurance and her crew.
This is a wonderful book. I would reccommend it to anyone with an interest in the antartic/exploration/humour or cats!
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