Kipling's Cat: A Memoir of My Father 
by Anne Cabot Wyman
Protean Press

"Without Father, I would never have learned to eat sea urchins eggs, to see the magic of Conrad and Trollope and Yeats, or to measure danger by the sound of waves on the shore or the sudden shift of somebody's voice, urgently warning, urging me on."

The death of a father ranks high among lifes losses. If the father has been extra special, you grieve the good times and the memories/wisdom that no longer exists on this plane. If the father has been abusive or absent, you grieve what you never had. Either way, many adult children are compelled to write about their fathers, either in elegiac form to keep him somewhat alive or in excruciatingly honest terms to help heal from tortured memories.

Kiplings Cat, a memoir by a long time, award-winning journalist Anne Cabot Wyman, falls into the first category. Although Jeffries Wyman may not have been the perfect father (he seldom praised his daughter or her brother, Jeff), he instilled long-lasting values and passions that have stood this woman well throughout her life.

The book has little to do with Kipling or with a cat. The title comes from a Rudyard Kipling story, The Cat that Walked by Himself, which reminds the author of her father. This memoir of a complex and adventurous man, Jeffries Wyman (1901-1995), is also a memoir of a class, a time, and many places—blueblood society in Boston in the early and mid 1900s (which has morphed) and many exotic overseas locales. A scientist who helped establish a branch of biochemistry and a talented painter and writer, Wyman was not the perfect father but he was always fascinating. He was often physically distant, traveling the world to discover other cultures and new science while serving for UNESCO in Cairo and at the American Embassy in Paris. This was a time when the rest of the world was far more foreign, much less Westernized.

Although often away from home, Wyman taught his daughter what she needed to live a good life and to be true to herself. He was curious, sensitive, quite giving, funny, sophisticated, and a kind man. He often painted in the nude, and his artwork mostly realistic watercolor landscapes and portraits—is very good; samples are included in this volume.

The author, Anne Cabot Wyman, inherited her father's passion for adventure and travel, writing for the Boston Globe for 30 years. Although some of the long science-related segments may bog down a non-scientist, overall this is an engaging read. It is refreshing to read a memoir of a less-than-perfect father, that, despite his shortcomings, he did a good job at instilling lessons of how to live a good life.

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