In 1980 when the author was living in Bangkok and her life was rackety, a monk taught Vivien to meditate in an abandoned temple on the Chao Phraya River. But it was his cat Jenjira, that she achieved a meditation of such blissful transcendence that the monk told her that Jenjira and her would have shared a destiny.
In 2002 at the Mayhew Animal Home in London Vivien saw a cat identical to Jenjira walking towards her, her face lit up with recognition. Her name was Alathena and she was one of 40 abused Ragdoll cats, who had been snatched from a breeder's flat in a dramatic last-minute rescue, the day before the local council had planned to put them down.
The cats were all very ill but she decided to adopt Alathena because the nurses said they waited for her and because Vivien felt impelled to care for her.
She adopted another rescued Ragdoll, Catriona, as a comparison cat for Alathena and started to research the story of the breeder and the rescue.
Meeting Alathena stirred up disturbing memories and half-memories of her life in Bangkok and Vivien's husband suggested she try to write them down. As Vivien remembered her time in Bangkok and investigated the Randall rescue she realised she was researching two quite different accounts of Alathena's provenance; one secular and factual, and the other Buddhist and mystical.