Thomasina: The Cat Who Thought She Was God was an endeavor by Paul Gallico to portray a father’s and daughter’s complex journey to regain love and beliefs that they have lost through tragedies. Moreover, a cat’s thoughts compared to a human perspective of animals are not only unusual but also display the difference between humans and animals.
Set in the Highlands of Scotland, the story centers around Thomasina, a pet cat who is very independent. However, she is dependent on the MacDhui family’s love and attention, particularly that of Mary MacDhui. Mary’s father, the stern veterinarian Andrew MacDhui, has a different opinion of Thomasina. In addition to enduring the loss of his wife and his ambitions, Dr. MacDhui is forced to survive Mary’s hatred when another tragedy occurs. Driven by guilt and his own hatred for God, Andrew looks for consolation until he meets a queer recluse named Lori whose compassion and mercy are necessary to save his daughter’s life and his own soul.
Gallico demonstrates his abilities as a philosopher inThomasina through MacDhui’s spirited debates about atheism and monotheism with his friend the minister. Their discussions are profound in spite of Andrew’s temper, and the controversy about equality between humans and animals is present throughout the novel. However, the author’s story is mainly an insightful and intelligent interpretation of human motives and emotions. Andrew loses his faith, Mary’s love, and his love for himself, while Mary loses her beloved pet and her love for her father. Lori’s love and compassion for animals are strongly contrasted by MacDhui’s hatred for them. Her love is so strong that it becomes a powerful force that teaches even the hot-tempered MacDhui to re-evaluate his beliefs. Despite that, certain factors within the novel lessen its message of change, equality, and faith.
On one hand, Thomasina herself is necessary to the plot as the cause that affects MacDhui’s final transformation. On the other hand, her narration in the story is a burden. Her “fantasies” about being an Egyptian goddess are profuse to the point of exasperation. MacDhui’s ability to love passionately is evident in his daughter’s behavior, but his violent temper is an extreme that shifts the story out of balance at times. Mary’s character, while appropriately childish, is as selfish as her father’s, and her obsessive love for Thomasina is her only redeeming quality by the end of the novel, considering that her hatred nearly killed her father’s spirit. However, Gallico still manages through Lori’s gentle character to save both Mary and Andrew from spiritual destruction and to resurrect their dormant true personalities.
Original review: Egyptian mythology in twentieth century Scotland?, Examiner.com