Cover Image: Cat Brushing

Cat Brushing

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Member Reviews

Cat Brushing has ignited a love of short stories within me. It tells the tales of women over 70 in the final chapter of their lives. An oft forgotten about or dismissed group. Campbell shows how age does not diminish a passion for life, for love, for adventure. Why should age devalue a person, reduce them to a burden or a fragile being who needs care and assistance. 

Each woman has plenty of thoughts, opinions, dreams, desires. And why wouldn’t they?? Why is it that society deems them invisible. Campbell looks at themes of sexual desire, obligation, dreams, memory. 

It was at times funny, emotional and heartbreaking. A gorgeous debut collection.
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Note: I received a proof of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

I really enjoyed this book, mostly for the unusual characters, settings and life stages of the characters, compared to so much of what gets published.

The biographical story of author Jane Campbell is inspirational in itself, and very in line with my podcast brand -- she worked for many years as a psychotherapist before writing the fantastic story, "Cat Brushing," after which this collection is named.

I loved so many stories in here, and really appreciated the perspective on life, relationships, sex, friendship and so much more in this collection. Highly recommend.
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Cat Brushing is the debut short story collection from Jane Campbell, published in the author’s eightieth year. Campbell presents vignettes of thirteen women as they reach seventy plus over thirteen stories. This book is surprisingly biting in its eroticised and eye-opening insight into the experiences of older women. (It’s Sapphic as well!!)

Retirement not merely professional but personal is perhaps the ageist expectation western society has come to assume from older women. We see women confined to the role of eager grandmother, skilled knitters and adept cat brushers, in an almost post-living pre-death waiting room. What Cat Brushing instead produces in thirteen short stories about women over seventy is a description of how lustful, vengeful and alive women can be in their later years. The lives of these women are not confined only to a backward facing nostalgia for their younger selves. All of Campbell’s thirteen women demonstrate in their experience of being alive, the impossibility of ever ceasing to create new stories for yourself, even as you reach your later years. In her final days Susan falls in love with her young carer, Martha avenges her beloved dog and Linda seeks out her former lover. They are far from being a “charming representation of innocence” as the son imagines his mother in Cat Brushing (The titular short story) these women are lusty, manipulative and brilliantly intelligent.

Their stories are told in smooth prose by Campbell. The author dedicates the book “For my Mother whose own story was never told”. A dedication that feels ever more moving as you read through the lives of these often sidelined and overlooked women, what Campbell brilliantly does is bring them out of the shadows of ageist oversight and turns the spotlight on them in all their strange glory.
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I believe I read the synopsis for this book (as I always do) a while ago but went into it now very much "blind" as I had forgotten all about said synopsis which feels like the best way to read this one. I say this all the time but what a pleasant surprise it was!

These stories were complex, fascinating, thought-provoking and a great reminder that just as mothers/fathers/parental figures are more than that particular role so are elderly people way more than their age and circumstances, and deserve to be treated and considered the way you would someone of a younger age. 

My favorites were "Schopenhauer and I", "Kindness", "Lamia" "Susan and Miffy" and honorable mentions for "Cat Brushing" and "On Being Alone" as well but they were all a delight to read. Hope to see more reviews of this book around here as it is a wonderful one.

If you enjoy reading short stories, particularly ones that touch on womanhood, aging, sex and desire please PICK THIS UP!!!
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Drawn in by the irresistible title and cover, it was the surprising content that had me glued to the pages over a couple of days. Yes, there's a discernible theme of sensuality and some romance that runs through the collection, but more than that I think it's a rare glimpse into the inner lives of 13 older women that really captured my attention. I will be one of them, one day! Some stories are sweet and others very dark (either darkly humorous or darkly disturbing), but there is no filler here. My favourite was probably <i>Lockdown Fantasms</i>, set in a world of interminable lockdown, where elderly couples sometimes choose to live apart in order to be eligible to enjoy the company of the government-provided fantasms for companionship (sometimes more) every week. Very cheeky and imaginative.
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I don't usually read short stories, but a friend recommended this collection and I was intrigued because the stories are about older women. I'm so glad I listened to her because I absolutely loved this book. The writing is sharp and clear, sometimes funny, sometimes painfully sad, and not like anything I've read before. I didn't want it to end.
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This is a great book by a new to me author. This is the first book I read by this excellent author and won't surely be the last as I love it.
In an age obsessed by youth this is a book about old women, women who lived and experienced sufference/loved/pleasure/loss/betrayal.
This is not a book that makes you "feel so and so". This is the retelling of experiences and how age can shape memories and feeling.
I loved it, felt for this women and loved them.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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In this electrifying debut, we follow the stories of thirteen older women as they reflect on the erotic, the emotional and the evocative parts of life they leave unspoken. 

The narrator of our lead story as she looks back on the sensuality of her past. An elderly woman who finds herself starting a relationship with her stunning young carer. A married lady trying to find her former lover. Someone explores robotic pleasure for the first time. A woman arrives at the funeral of her ex-husband and relives the pain of the relationship. 

Each story creates a tender, elegant connection with the subject, each character undeniable real and visceral. Jane Campbell boldly and unashamedly writes about the unspoken, unaccepted truths of female lust and life as we go through life and age - about the forced invisibility and desexualisation of women that is put upon us we age. 

Exploring sexuality, sensuality and femininity, this story resonated deeply with me - with such an eclectic range of themes from futuristic sci-fi to quietly impending mortality - but all of them capturing the beautiful and universal truths of womanhood. 

The stories all have very similar styles and structures, giving a sense of familiarity throughout even with the wide scope of the subjects. I will definitely be keeping an eye on Campell in the future.

"The lust of an old man is disgusting but the lust of an old woman in worse. Everyone knows that."
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Thanks to Netgalley for providing an e-arc in exchange for an honest review

I was really intrigued by the premise of this book with the short stories of women and their experiences. 

I feel like I don’t have much to say about it - I quite enjoyed reading it and found all the stories interesting and each of them gave me something to think about, but there were a few that really stood out to me personally and I felt connected to the women. I can see myself reading through some of those again, and there were some lines that really stayed with me, particularly in the final story.

I think this book will have a stronger impact on maybe an older audience, but I think this is valuable for all women to read and would recommend it to others.
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I really enjoyed this collection of stories about elderly women. The writing is excellent and the stories themselves give different perspectives on ageing and the expectations of others about the elderly. Memory, time, love, sadness, feelings of desire, trauma, end of life, a wide range of themes covered. The style is mostly similar throughout although at least one of the stories (‘Kindness’) has wicked humour, and the second story, ‘The Scratch’ made me gasp, I didn’t expect the shocking ending. A couple of the stories have sci-fi themes, ‘Schopenhauer and I’ about a woman in a care home getting a care robot and ‘Lockdown Fantasms’ is harder to explain but essentially over 70s who are living alone are visited once a week by a ‘fantasm’ constructed from their memories in place of real human contact. An emotional and entertaining read.
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Cat Brushing is Cambell's debut collection of short stories which she is releasing at the age of 80! She offers a unique and nuanced perspective into the life of older women discussing themes of loss, lonliness and sexuality. 

As can be expected with short story collections, I loved some and wasn't so keen on others (hence the rating) - the titular Cat Brushing was a 5* for me. I'd definitely recommend this collection - especially if you like short stories - as the perspective is so uncommon in main stream literature. It certainly gave me a lot to think about. However, mid-way through, I found that the novelty of the themes wore off slightly for me but nonetheless an enjoyable collection.
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Cat Brushing by Jane Campbell is a collection of short stories about love, loss, memory, passions and ageing.
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As an older woman I was drawn in by the promise of a collection of short stories centred around the lives of a number of older women. It is sadly not often we see ourselves represented in modern literary fiction as strong main protagonists. However I was not expecting so much content around sexual pleasure and eroticism and while I am no prude, this is not the type of content I find interesting or engaging.
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This was a nice collection of short stories which I found to be very thought provoking.
I really enjoyed reading about older women in a way that I haven’t previously. While the characters were old in body, they had the same wants and needs as when they were younger. I really enjoy reading their stories. I enjoyed reading about some very well rounded older characters 
The risk with short stories is that I enjoyed some a great deal but there were some that I didn’t, which resulted in a lower rating. My favourite story was the one with the dog sitting woman
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An utterly beautiful and perceptive collection of short stories. A glimpse at the complex inner lives of older women, who are so easily dismissed in society. Thought provoking and memorable, a collection I will dip into again and again.
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Thought-provoking, heartwarming, poignant short story collection; Campbell's "Cat Brushing" delves into the erotic, emotional, and intellectual lives of elder women and explores in a delicate and witty manner the theme of ageing.
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