Fletcher and Zenobia by Victoria Chess and Edward Gorey

I don’t have all that much to say about Fletcher and Zenobia except that reading it makes me very happy, every time. It hits just the right note of whimsy without being twee. It’s mildly melancholy at the beginning, then enlivened, then worrisome again, and then everything is pleasantly resolved at the end. What more could I ask for?

Fletcher and Zenobia

Fletcher is a cat who lives in the biggest tree “for miles around. He had run up it in a moment of thoughtless abandon and ever since had been unable to get down again.” As cats do. He is well provided for by the contents of a “vast, brass-bound leather trunk.” Provisions include “a collection of hats for all occasions. Alas, not one single one had arisen as long as Fletcher had been in the tree.”

Zenobia is an old-fashioned doll. “She was dressed in mauve velvet, and though her face was plain, the ribbons on her gown and the flowers on her hat were stylish indeed—not to mention her buttons.” Fletcher discovers her inside a papier-mâché egg in the trunk.

She looked around her with puzzled interest
“We are in a tree,” said Fletcher.
“A perfect place for a sunny summer afternoon,” said Zenobia. “Where do you live otherwise?”
Fletcher explained that there wasn’t any otherwise.

Thus summarizing the dilemma perfectly.

They come up with something to do, which turns out to provide and occasion for the wearing of hats. One thing leads to another, and by the end of the book things are very different, and I am happy for having read it.

Some sample illustrations are below the fold.

Fletcher, alone

Fletcher

Fletcher and Zenobia

Fletcher and Zenobia

Fletcher and Zenobia and hats

Fletcher and Zenobia and hats

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