Book Review/Synopsis



                    THE ART OF PURRING


                            David Michie


This is the second book in the Dalai Lama’s Cat series. This novel is different from the first as the Dalai Lama himself is basically absent from the story. He is present in the beginning for a short time and returns at the end of the book after a seven week sojourn to the U.S. Before leaving he commissions his cat, Snow Lion, to spend the time of his absence to determine the art of purring.

Snow Lion embarks on this quest and has many adventures along the way with her select group of human friends.

Serena Trinci is the daughter of the Dalai Lama’s cook. She had studied cuisine in Italy and was a renowned chef. She has temporarily stopped in Mcleod Ganj to visit with her mom and to rest up for six months from a hectic schedule of working at a top restaurant in Venice. She is on her way to London where she has accepted the position of chef at a fashionable restaurant in an upscale part of the city.

Franc is the owner of the Himalayan Book Café and he was preparing to go to San Francisco to take care of his seriously ailing father. Serena happens to arrive at that time and he asks her if she would supervise his Café while he is away. Even though she had not planned on doing anything, especially with food, during her stay, she accepts to help him out. He introduces Snow Lion to her as Rinpoche, as that was what he had named her, and told Serena that she is the Dalai Lama’s cat.

Kusali is the manager of the eatery part of the Himalayan Book Café and realizing Serena’s expertise the two of them embark on developing a creative Indian cuisine menu. Franc had left explict instructions that nothing was to be changed on the menu during his absence. To circumvent this they decide to try serving it during the hours when the restaurant is closed. It becomes an instant success!

Sam Goldberg is the manager and inspiration of the bookstore part of the Café. Eventually, he too becomes a “conspirator” in introducing Indian fare to the Café. As the days progress he becomes attracted to Serena. It turns into a mutual attraction.

Serena started taking a yoga class led by the instructor Ludo. Quite often Rinpochi follows her there. At the first session one of the students referred to her as Swami because of the way she was sitting, and the name stuck – one more to add to her other accumulated names. In good nature, she answers to all of them, after all she is the Dalai Lama’s very intelligent cat!

After the yoga sessions many of the students would gather for tea and camaraderie on the balcony.

Several weeks later Rinpochi was in attendance at one of the classes when she spied a rat on the balcony. She let out a low menacing growl which ran a chill down the instructor’s back. Following her gaze he walks out onto the balcony and looks over. Quickly he reenters the room and tells all the students to gather their things and rush outside in an orderly manner. The building next door is on fire! No sooner are they in the street when the wall and balcony to their studio starts to burn. The quick response of the fire department enables most of the building to be saved. Rinpochi is hailed a hero!

While Franc is with his father in San Francisco the success of Serena’s Indian cuisine days lead to another enterprise. Customers keep asking what are the spices she uses. She tells them, but their failures, due to substituting or wrong measurements, give her the idea of prepackaging the spices thus leaving out the guesswork.   It turns into a hit! Soon she has to hire helpers to help her with the packaging. Eventually, it becomes a viable business that keeps spreading throughout the globe via word of mouth and social media.

Upon Franc’s return, after the death of his father, he tells Serena and his staff how ecstatic he is about their initiative to introduce Indian cuisine as well as the increased sales. Serena is happy about the praise, but also aware that since Franc is back she no longer has a job. Her six months are almost up and she must make a major decision about whether she will continue to London or somehow remain in Mcleod Ganj.

As the book nears its end the Dalai Lama returns home. Snow Leopard is besides herself as they reunite! No longer will she have to count the days before they are together again, and no longer will she have to sleep on an empty bed! She has deduced the art of purring.

Throughout the book wisps of philosophical and life worthy issues are discussed as situations develop among the various characters. It makes for thoughtful reading.

Even though I enjoyed this book and all the interactions of the assorted personages, I found that the lack of the presence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama was a deterrent. All in all I must admit I much liked the first book, The Dalai Lama’s Cat, better. ~ Marilu Shellie







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