Jennifer Pulling is a successful writer in several genres.
‘My father, George, introduced me to M.R. James when I was six. I spent my teenage years reading about life while my peers were out experiencing it.’
Illness constrained her to live vicariously through fictional heroines like Daisy Miller, Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina. These stories of women who defied common sense to pursue a lust for life were her early influences and continue to inform her writing today.
Judith Goldstein, heroine of MONET’S ANGELS, is young, beautiful and reckless, determined to break free and live her bohemian dream. But her presence disturbs long buried memories, sparking a chain of events that have a tragic conclusion.
‘At twenty-two, I was completely recovered, ready to escape my bookish self and ‘live’. In a parallel universe, Italy had always been there, waiting for me.’
This was the ultimate love affair, a deep and abiding passion for a place and she couldn’t keep away. But how to finance this wanderlust? She wrote – and had published – numerous women’s magazine short stories. Her travel articles appeared in national newspapers and magazines. Her plays such as HOMECOMING, which won the Clemence Dane award, resulted from an emotive visit to the Marais district of Paris, scene of Jewish deportation during WW2. She believes travel is a significant key to unlocking the creative process.
Jennifer lives and writes in a Victorian cottage on the South coast. She is also a passionate animal lover and has a special affinity with cats. Moved by the plight of many felines in Sicily, she set up Catsnip and has been involved in the field of cat welfare and neutering for the past fourteen years. The memoir/travelogue of her experiences and perception of the Sicilian landscape and culture THE GREAT SICILIAN CAT RESCUE was published in 2015.
She is currently at work on the sequel to MONET’S ANGELS.
A storm had been brewing over Casoli, a town in mainland Italy’s Abruzzo. Then the heavens opened.
‘Listen,’ cat lover Rita urged her boyfriend Giles, ‘isn’t that a kitten crying?’
They plunged into the wild night and discovered a tiny feline, soaking wet, shivering and crying with fear. They waited for his mum to return but after an hour and still no sign of other cats, they decided to take him home. A bath and treatment for a bad flea infestation transformed the black and white kitten into a playful, happy little chap.
Australians, Rita and Giles were on a three-month trip and soon would have to move on. Did I know of anyone who might help? They didn’t want to have to put the kitten back on the street. They’d willingly deliver the kitten anywhere that was within a day’s drive. This was a difficult one as Catsnip operates only in Sicily and I had no contacts to call on. I posted an appeal on Facebook with little response.
Then I remembered Elena. Two weeks before, while staying on Gozo, I’d been standing in the street anxiously watching two kittens, which appeared to be stranded on a roof. I’d been joined by an equally worried Italian couple.
‘I’m a cat woman,’ I told them.
‘So am I,’ replied Elena.
She told me she lived in Naples and worked to save feral animals from the city’s streets. She also knew Dorothea Fritz, the German vet with whom I’d worked on neutering trips. It seemed to us both this meeting was more than a coincidence and we agreed to stay in touch. Now I contacted her and asked if she could help Rita and Giles. Meanwhile, the couple had followed several other leads and drawn a blank.
‘I’m getting nervous,’ wrote Rita, ‘we won’t have a solution in time but have to remain positive.’
I, too, had begun to despair and to imagine the kitten once more abandoned to his fate. Then Rita told me they had managed to speak on the phone to Elena.
‘We're taking the kitten to Elena and a volunteer friend of hers, Rosalia tomorrow in Naples. We've just organised to meet at midday so we'll set off in the morning and hopefully the little fella will be happily with his foster volunteer by early afternoon and then adopted out from there.’
Fortunately Squirm, the slightly odd name they’d given the kitten, was a good traveller sleeping throughout the long drive from Abruzzo to Naples. ‘Operation kitten drop’ was an emotional one as both Rita and Giles had fallen in love with the wee mite and found it hard to let him go. But subsequent photos showing the kitten playing with Rosalie’s dog and generally being a mischievous and happy feline convinced them they had done the best thing for little Squirm. It is sad to say that many kittens’ cry for help is ignored but this waif in the storm seems set for a rosy future.
Once again approaches the arrival of the summer holiday season. I know, only too well what that will mean for me: tourists stahing in locations all round Sicily who come across a csat abused, ill or in distress. 'What can we do?' they write 'who can we contact. Over time, in the company of some lovely cat ladies, I have some names and addresses of people they can contact, not to mention, 'my' lovely vet who truly cares about feral animals. And so my work weith Cstsnip continues.
You can can read about my doings in my book The Great Sicilian Cat Rescue
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