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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Jennie (Collins Modern Classics)
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 10 October 2017
One of my favourite books as a child, Jennie is a study of cat behaviour, but also of human emotions. There are some wonderful descriptions and there is humour and tragedy. It is a book that I could read and read again, even as an adult.
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on 1 March 2017
Superb writing, I like the balance between what is credible in the transfer from human to feline brains between what is credible and what is too risky to include. The ending is predictable, but none the worse for that. I chose the novel because of the author whom I have not read for 50 years, but I remember his books were always immensely enjoyable.
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on 16 October 2017
Someone recommended this to me as I love cats. It is a very well written book but honestly I can't recommend it to cat lovers as quite a lot of bad things happen to cats in it!
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on 13 June 2017
a gift book for Jennie
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 November 2016
Lovely, a classic I'd never heard of. Today, we have many examples of children's (see the lately published Animalcolm by David Baddiel) about children turning to animals. This is an excellent example, as it really is carefully thought through, just how a child would experience another animal's world.

Peter is desperate for a pet - his mother is more interested in parties, his father away in the army, but he isn't allowed the cat he craves. After being knocked down by a car, he awakens as - a cat! Not recognised at home, he is soon out on the streets. A kind female comes to his aid and shows him his new world. And capabilities.

Jennie can't believe that Peter is really a human boy at first. WIll Peter learn the ways of cats, stay that way, or somehow manage to return to his old life? Would he want to?

The most impressive thing about this story was the wonderful passages of Peter learning to be a cat - how to lick himself, how to move through the world as a cat, how to fight as one. I loved this, it felt as though the author had done meticulous research!

The story is sweet, as Peter and Jennie loyally band together through adventures around the world, meeting kind and cruel people (and other animals), and working out just where they want to be.

Deserves to be better known, it's a lovely story and well told, not hard to read, needs a contemporary cover and would stand up well against modern animal stories.

One for ages 9 and above.
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on 9 December 2016
I was sent scurrying to a re-read of this following a chance post by a fellow blogger about fictional books with a cat-focus. Particularly as another post by a different blogger, about a book by Beverley Nichols had sent me to my bookshelves in remembrance of a book from childhood by Nichols, about his cats. Beverley Nichols' Cats' A. B. C.

I first read Paul Gallico’s delightful (and sobbingly heart-aching) book about a little boy who finds himself changed into a cat, when I was probably at target age 8-11, I think. And I have occasionally read it again, and it’s similarly cats-eye view orientated successor, Thomasina.

Although the protagonist is a little boy, this is by no means childishly written, nor does it just offer whimsicality about cats. I’m afraid, despite of course knowing the story well, that I sobbed in all the places I had ever sobbed before – perhaps partly because of memories of the first sobbing, aged somewhere around 9 or 10, but also, because some quite deep themes are being explored – particularly loss, friendship, betrayal of trust, death.

“Hers was the call of the loneliness of the rejected, the outcast of the granite heart of the unheeding city”

Peter Brown is a lonely rather privileged little boy – he has a Nanny and two successful, socialite parents who are too busy to give him much love and affection. Above everything, he wants a cat, but as Nanny doesn’t like them and his parents are too occupied with their own concerns to risk upsetting Nanny, Peter’s dearest wish is denied. Seeing a little kitten across a busy main road, Peter follows his tender instincts and runs, without doing his Green Cross, across the road. And is knocked down. Unexpectedly he finds he has become a white cat (I know, I know, but stick with it, this is far from merely twee fantasy)

Gallico, a life long animal, and particularly cat-animal lover, absolutely takes the reader inside cat-dom. Peter retains human consciousness, and has no idea how to circumnavigate his new world. Starving, chased away, stepped on by unaware people because he lacks the cat sense to get out of the way, Peter is almost killed by a ferocious territorial feral top cat. Fortunately, he gets rescued by the eponymous Jennie, a sweet-faced, sweet-natured, intelligent and rather plain fellow stray cat. Jennie is a cat who now hates people, following her abandonment by the loving family who were everything to her. She begins to teach the little boy trapped inside a cat’s body how to be a cat. And the reader too! Peter must learn the intricacies of being able to wash himself, the difference between the game of catching your breakfast mouse and killing a deadly rat, cat courtesy, the rules of cat conflict, how to open dustbins – and much more.

Although Peter comes to think as cat, he also retains his little boy ability to understand human language, and, rather importantly, to read. He has many exciting adventures with Jennie – including travelling, as the two stowaway and work passage on a Glasgow steamer. They have several instances of narrow escapes from various dangers which might befall a cat, and, as in all good books, grow, develop and change through their relationship with each other and external events.

Peter and Jennie learn from each other and teach each other how to be more – soulful, whatever the shape of the body that encloses them.

Gallico leavens sadness with much fun and good humour, and all his characters, feline and human are quirky, recognisable and sharply delineated

This is a gorgeous book for a tender-hearted child, and a tender-hearted adult too. And with even more appeal if some of your tenderness is cat shaped

Happily now re-issued as a Modern Classic, it was originally published in 1950
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on 30 September 2012
I first read this book 50 years ago (yes, 50) when I was very young. My elder sister kindly loaned it to me, and I can't adequately describe what a deep impression it made on my young mind. I recall I wanted to find Jennie, take her home and look after her.

Well, the book soon went out of print, I couldn't find a copy anywhere, and the years rolled by. But I never forgot it, and then it turned up on Amazon (of course, where else) in e-book format. I'd forgotten much of it, and misremembered much of the rest, but it didn't matter. What a pleasure it was to read it again after all these years.

If you're a cat fancier you'll certainly enjoy reading this. If you're not, well, you may find you never see cats in quite the same way again. Paul Gallico anthropomorphises them of course, but there's much in Peter and Jennie that you'll find in real cats.

Highly recommended.

(Deep in my imagination, Jennie is still out there somewhere.........)
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on 7 May 2015
As my grand daughter aged 11has just finished reading Jennie and was in floods of tears, I decided to re read it after a gapp of about 50 years, and yes it is a well written tale of a small boy who, wakes up in hospital after being knocked down crossing the road to see a cat, to find that he has turned into a fluffy white cat. He meets a female cat who helps him to learn how to be a cat . They become great friends and have lots of adventures. I too wept buckets at the end.
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on 16 February 2012
I remember this book because I loved it when I was about 13. I read it again after finding it here on Amazon, and it's still lovely. Some people might find it a bit sentimental in parts but it is clear from the text that Paul Galico studied cat behaviour very closely before writing it. Not that it's about that; it's a story about a young boy who becomes a cat, but it's closer to the bone than a cuddly-cute kids story, and the characters he meets are very well observed and fully rounded.

I won't give away the ending but all I would say is do read it if you get the chance and if you enjoy escapism. And cats. But not recommended for younger readers (8 and under) because it has a violent scene and the ending is bittersweet and could cause tears.
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on 8 December 2012
I read this book once before when my children were young and remembering how much I enjoyed it I decided to buy it and read it again.On this second reading I can only say that I enjoyed it more!
As a cat lover myself I can identify with all the insights into cat behaviour and one can very easily grow to love the two main characters.
I found this book very hard to put down and felt a sense of loss when it was finished.
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