Troubador Cromwell’s Cat

Released: 28/01/2021

ISBN: 9781800461963

eISBN: 9781800468597

Format: Paperback/eBook

Review this Book

Cromwell’s Cat


From 1638, when this story starts, to its end twenty years later, Oliver Cromwell went on a roller-coaster ride through English history. Historians have argued about him and his motives ever since, but no-one’s been able to hear it from his point of view - until now. In chewing over events with his cat, Tomkins, Cromwell at last tells it like it was. 

After all, when did your cat ever ask you “Who are you trying to impress?” Never, of course – and neither does Tomkins. He hears all and, because he and Cromwell find early on that they talk the same language, he reveals all: Cromwell’s take on the Putney debates, the trial and Execution of Charles 1; his installation as Lord Protector and many more. 

So, the obscure-ish Ely gentleman, who by virtue of his military achievements rose to be almost but not quite King, finally gets to speak uncensored. And because the language barrier once-breached, becomes infinitely breachable, readers find they can ask him questions for which no-one hitherto (not teachers, not examiners, not historians and certainly not politicians) has ever known the answer. He tells of his belief that God was driving the rollercoaster – buoying him up on the highs (when Christ’s second coming and the rule of the saints seemed at hand) – and driving him on through the lows (and there were many) when he realised he’d got it wrong and the Lord must have been looking for something different. 

 Losing friends, finding enemies but never losing hope, convinced throughout that the Lord had a special providence for England - and for him.

Princess Fuzzypants here: I love books with unique or unusual devices. I also love books where the narrator is a cat. This book has both things. The Master of Ceremonies is Tomkins, Cromwell’s Cat, as the title says. It presents a discussion between two of the key characters in the English Civil War and the Commonwealth- Cromwell and Charles I. Tomkins keeps the conversation going as well as fielding questions and comments from a group of students who are studying that time.

As we all know, things would be much better if cats were in charge and Tomkins’ take on the events surrounding the conflicts is fascinating. It is all done with an element of cheekiness that is charming and disarming. Cromwell becomes Crumb and Charles becomes Maj as they discuss the events and the reasons behind their decisions. It provides an entirely different slant as the characters, Tomkins, Crumb and Maj, with the benefit of hindsight, look at what they might have done differently.

Not just because he is the boon companion of an extraordinary cat, Cromwell comes across as a man who wished things could have been resolved differently and was only looking for what was best for his people. Charles too comes across as someone who realizes, too late, that when opportunities for compromise and peace were presented, he acted rashly. Neither one comes off as a villain. It is both information and remarkably objective, thanks, of course, to the talented Tomkins.

It was an enjoyable read that I can recommend to any student of history with a touch of whimsy. Five purrs and two paws up.

by NetGalley review

The cover of this short novel states it as ‘A Whiskerleaks Publication’ and that it was: ‘Banned from publication for 350 years and now communicated in confidence to’ the author. Inside its subtitle is ‘Tomkins Tells it like it was.’ This had me smiling even before starting to read the main text.

The cat of the title is named Tomkins. He introduces himself and how he came to know Oliver Cromwell during his first life and why he is embarking on this ‘purr-and-tell’ account.

Tomkins then hosts a dialogue between himself and Cromwell (Crum), later bringing in His Majesty King Charles I (Maj), along with various 21st Century students, who have been invited by Tomkins to listen in and ask questions.

The subject for discussion was the events in England from 1638-58 during Oliver Cromwell “roller-coaster ride through English history”. As the publisher states: “Historians have argued about him and his motives ever since, but no-one’s been able to hear it from his point of view - until now. In chewing over events with his cat, Tomkins, Cromwell at last tells it like it was.”

I felt that this short novel, intended for Teen/YA readers, was an innovative way to engage with history. It was a bit like a cosmic Zoom meeting and proved both informative and funny.

I think that it would also be of interest to a wider readership who would like to read a witty cat’s perspective on history. Yes, it was whimsical and I adored it!

by NetGalley review

Cromwell's Cat. When I saw this on netgalley, the inner history nerd in me freaked out, and I was super happy when my request was accepted. This book's form made it very enjoyable to read, as I loved the interactions I could have with Cromwell, though Tomkins (who is the cat from the title), with the Q&A from modern students. As always, I love some interesting dialogue, and I found this fascinating, as well as the links to the historical conversations throughout the novel. Brilliant concept, and very well executed.

by NetGalley review

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