4 out of 4 stars
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Have you ever wondered or hoped that your beloved pets will be waiting for you in heaven? William and Tibby Forever is Lynda Hamblen's debut novel depicting the adventures of sibling cats and the charmed lives they lead, followed by their arrivals in heaven. Amusingly told from the perspective of the cats, the heartwarming story alternates between their idyllic life with Jane/Second Mom and her husband, Hon in the gray house on the hill and heaven.
Shortly after bringing home a female kitten with unusual markings that she names Tibby, Jane realizes her new pet is lonely and returns for Tibby's serious looking brother, William. The two kittens feast on sardines and cream, prowl in the green fields near the creek, and take long luxurious naps. With the exceptions of vet visits and their fear of the metal beasts residing in the garage, life is purrfect...until William is hit by a car. When he wakes up, he discovers he is in heaven with Third Mom who is caring for Second Mom's previous cats--all thirteen of them--until it is time for her arrival in heaven. With so many different feline personalities surrounding him, William struggles to grow in goodness so he can earn his halo. Meanwhile, Tibby is tested by the new addition to the family, Elvira--the tiny black kitten vying for Second Mom's attention. As the story unfolds, William is introduced to more of Second Mom's cats, as they continue to arrive in heaven. In the gray house, Tibby and Elvira become inseparable until a life-threatening illness affects the family. While there are highs and lows as the cats learn to adjust, what follows is a joyful reunion.
From the beautiful cover art to the idyllic ending, I enjoyed every moment of this charming read. The book was well-written and carefully edited. Though it's not necessary to be a feline lover to enjoy the story, it will delight those who are and can relate to the cats' amusing antics and assumption that the world revolves around them. For instance, "They felt that the attention and care she spent on Hon could have been better spent on them. In fact, William and Tibby couldn't figure out why Second Mom needed Hon at all. He was much too big to sit in her lap. And he never purred or rubbed against her legs after being fed, even though she spent much more time preparing his meals than she did theirs." Equally humorous was the author's portrayal of the cats' perceptions regarding the furless beasts lurking in the garage. "William and Tibby were convinced that every time the beasts roared out of sight, it was with the intention of devouring their occupants...They could only hope when that day came, it was the man and not Second Mom who was eaten."
There's a lot to like about this whimsical work of fiction. In addition to the accurate and entertaining portrayal of the cats, I was impressed by the author's ability to create the well-developed characters of Jane and Hon primarily through their dialogues and the cats' perception. Readers learn everything they need to know about Jane from the way she cares for and speaks to her pets, interacts with her husband, and grieves losses. Likewise, Hon, who isn't exactly a feline lover during much of the story, is relatable and becomes endearing as the story progresses. I also enjoyed the parallel stories of the cats' earthly and heavenly lives.
While I found no areas to highlight for improvement, I will say that the book moves at a leisurely pace making it an ideal weekend read. On the other hand, it probably isn't a book for readers who prefer a quicker pace. The book appears to be professionally edited as I noted a single error. I'm pleased to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to animal lovers and readers who appreciate fiction stories related to heaven.
William and Tibby Forever
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