Matthew Flinders’ Cat

It has been a while since I’ve found a book that I just didn’t want to put down. I have several books “on the  go” at the moment, some eBooks which I read on the tablet and one other hard cover book. My reading habits have become a bit erratic lately as, especially with eBooks, I tend read a bit here and a bit there at night before I go to sleep rather than sitting down and reading a book cover to cover.

At the Op Shop where I now volunteer three times a week someone came in with a load of household goods including a box of hard cover books. I have plenty of books and wasn’t looking for more but then I saw a book with a picture of  a cat on the cover and had to pick it up. I used to have a cat that looked very much like it. It was “Matthew Flinders’ Cat” by Bryce Courtenay.  I have read some of Bryce Courtenay’s other books and enjoyed them and I once read a biography of Matthew Flinders so I was intrigued.

I was alone in the shop and the weather was bad so there were no customers. I opened the book and started to read. Within a few minutes I knew I was going to have to buy it so I could read the whole thing so I popped $3 into the till and have been reading it off and on since Thursday.

Matthew Flinders’ Cat tells the story of a homeless man, Billy, a street kid called Ryan and how they save each other. During the course of the book Billy tells Ryan the story of Trim a seagoing cat who belonged to Captain Flinders. Although the story of Billy and Ryan is fiction Trim was a real cat. There is a statue of Trim on a window ledge of the Mitchell Wing of the State Library of  New South Wales near the statue of Matthew Flinders. For those not familiar with Australian history Captain Matthew Flinders RN (16 March 1774 – 19 July 1814) was an English navigator and cartographer, who was the leader of the first circumnavigation of Australia and identified it as a continent. I remember learning about his voyages in school.

By en:User:PanBK, CC BY-SA 3.0,

While I don’t want to give away too much of the plot of the book, it is not a new one, it was written in 2002; it follows Billy who was once a lawyer as he struggles with alcoholism and rehabilitation.  It seems a well researched and honest book and even though I have not finished reading it yet I would recommend it.

A good read
A good read

Further Reading: