In Love with The French Cat

Posted on Nov 20, 2011

Rachael Mckenna (nee Hale), The French CatI let out an ear-shattering childish squeal of delight and gasped for air. Impulsively, I lunged forward to grab the book off the shelf, tossing to the floor my half-finished Starbucks Gingerbread Latte. The bookstore was no longer quiet.

Well, almost… That’s how it felt, anyway. I was completely out of control the moment I set eyes on it: “The French Cat” by Rachel McKenna (née Hale).

I couldn’t help myself. I shoved my Starbucks at my nearby husband and plowed past to snatch the book from the shelf. I didn’t exactly scream but I quietly squealed (repeatedly).

I devoured page after page of France + felines with a voracious appetite – much the same as my cat, Kita, used to do with tuna. You could not stop her, she’d annihilate that can as though she hadn’t eaten in months. Her normally aloof and reserved nature completely dissolved to reveal her purely animal instincts. Nothing could get between her and tuna. She was a savage beast. As was I with this book.

Imagine the most stunning French scenes, from sun-dappled Provençal cobbled lanes to a centuries-old chateau salon brimming with book cases with walls cloaked in tapestries.

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

If you know Vicki Archer‘s “My French Life” and have had the divine pleasure of feasting your eyes on those positively inspiring images…. then imagine that kind of stunning photography but with the sheer delight of discovering a little cat there too.

This book is heaven, I’m sure of it.

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

The whole thing of it is heaven… the assignment to toodle-about in the south of France and ‘capture’ felines doing whatever they will (as those of us that know cats can attest to the fact that the moment one tries to infringe upon a feline’s freedom she will shred you, or simply depart in a snit) is inspiring in itself. The book’s creator, Rachael, was able to combine her loves (photography, animals, France) and produce an absolutely stunning piece of art, which in turn, lifts heart like mine.

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

It manages to accomplish this heart-lifting feat for several reasons.

  1. It’s wonderfully inspiring that she was able to combine her Loves in life and be rewarded (ie: paid!) for doing so.
  2. Cats. Need I say more? Well I might, just a little: Cats have a way all their own of softly padding their way into your heart, no matter how closed-off or cynical one chooses to masquerade as. (Recall those charming stories of a lonely, grumpy old man… only to discover that at home he is as sweet as honey to his one Love, a wee cat.)
  3. France. Have I made myself clear that my heart dwells there? As such, anything feeding my ravenous French longing is certainly tops in my books.
  4. Rachael’s photography sincerely captures the essence of the moment. I haven’t a clue how she accomplishes this. I suppose it’s that nearly mystical thing, called talent. I so deeply appreciate this. Her images conjure up tastes, memories (ones you didn’t even know you had!) and scents, transporting you right there, into that very scene.
  5. Hope. The book gives us all hope (well, those of us that are hell-bent on manifesting a sliver of French life). We can continue to dream, knowing that those magical scenes are still there, waiting for us to arrive. And she gives us all hope that in doing what we love, we will touch the hearts of others.
Photographing Caramel - Chateau Saint Loup

Rachael Photographing Caramel - Chateau Saint Loup

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

This book has given me fuel to forge ahead in manifesting my own French life. It inspires me and makes my heart sing. It brings me to tears in remembering the cats who’ve shared their lives with me since my earliest days on the farm. It awakens my deep desire to once again have a little fuzzy one to curl up with me and begs me to consider a kitten. I wonder, has my heart sufficiently healed after the loss of my last fuzzy one, 14-year old Kita? (Why must we protect ourselves from what we love sometimes?)

Holy cats! All this, from one ‘simple’ book. Indeed, Rachael knows there’s nothing like the softness of cat’s fur and their healing purr… or that je ne sais quois of France.

A deep bow to you Rachael and to all those cats who let her into their world, even if for just a fleeting moment.

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Rachael Mckenna's The French Cat

Images via Rachael Mckenna’s blog and Booktopia.

Note: It seems the book was first published under her maiden name, Rachael Hale. These days the author is known as Rachael Mckenna.

Book links:

Vicki Archer’s book, My French Life on Amazon

Rachael Mckenna’s book, The French Cat on Amazon

A wee behind-the-scenes video of Rachael Mckenna at work photographing elusive French cats:

 


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2 Comments

  1. Judy Sawyers
    December 16, 2012

    Can you please advise which is the cover for The French cat – it shows 2 pictures on your site – the one with the cat on the chair and one with the streetscape, Is it the same book?
    Thankyou, Judy

    • Hollie Olivia
      December 16, 2012

      Judy! Excellent question – I too wondered this. The short answer is: yes.
      The long answer is….
      It seems there have been two print runs of the book, each with a different cover. The book I own has the cat draped on the antique chair on the cover. Recently, the author was married (perhaps around the same time the book launched?) and changed her name. Her married surname is McKenna. The interior of my book refers to her as Rachel McKenna, but on the cover her name is Rachel Hale.
      My best guess is the current print run is here and has “Do Do” the kitty on the chair with author named as Rachel Hale.
      Bon chance, Judy!