Excerpt from Ever By My Side by Dr. Nick Trout, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Ever By My Side

A Memoir in Eight Acts Pets

by Dr. Nick Trout

Ever By My Side
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2011, 320 pages
    Feb 2012, 320 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

At a downstairs window a shredded lace curtain fl uttered and then a tiny woman appeared at the doorstep looking as if she had just got out of bed in her mauve bathrobe and matching slippers, even though this was the middle of the afternoon. She was not much taller than Amanda, but her skin was waxy and wrinkled, her gray hair stiff and lopsided, as if it had dried in a strong crosswind. This is all the description I can offer because my eyes began to water, my vision blurred, and I had an overpowering desire to pinch my nose and run away, gasping for fresh air. The Cat Lady was careful to close the front door behind her, but she had already unleashed a pungent, toxic cloud of aerosolized feline urine into our environment.

To her credit and my surprise, Amanda managed to stay focused and told the story of how we found the four abandoned kittens in a pillowcase and how they seemed hungry and in need of food and shelter. In the meantime Keith looked like he might vomit, the nausea contorting his face fueling a giggling fit that his brother Timmy struggled to contain.

"We didn't know what to do," said Amanda, showing Sugarplum to the Cat Lady.

Now, some parents might be reading this and thinking an impromptu visit to a complete stranger with a local reputation for being a bit of a weirdo might not have been a particularly good idea. What if the Cat Lady invited us in and introduced us to her husband, the Big Bad Wolf? In fact, personal danger never crossed our minds. Helicopter parenting had yet to be invented and besides, the old woman's getup gave her a warm and cozy bedtime aura, as if she might break out the hot chocolate and tell us a story at any moment.

The Cat Lady kept her lips pursed, head angled slightly down, forcing her eyes to roll up as she considered the four of us through wispy gray eyebrows. We held our collective breath (primarily because of the overpowering aroma of cat pee), but she may have mistaken this for worry on our part over what she was going to do.

"Follow me," she said in a plummy voice that exuded military hustle, leading us down the side of the house - not through it - to a small backyard. There, inside a wooden shed (thankfully well ventilated), was a series of crates and cages containing a couple of older kittens and some adult cats. Everything was clean and orderly, plenty of newspaper and blankets to go around.

"Let's have a look at him," said the Cat Lady and held out her hand to Amanda, taking Sugarplum and inspecting his belly, his mouth, and his eyes. At the time I thought this was just another way of judging which one she would choose to be her favorite, but of course she was trying to get a sense of the kitten's age - whether it still had the dried and shriveled umbilical remnant of a kitten up to three days old; whether it had any nubbins of teeth coming in, suggesting a kitten about two weeks of age; whether, as was the case with our litter, the eyes were still shut.

"You can leave them with me," she said, "but I'm not promising anything, you understand. They're more than three days old but less than ten. A difficult age and a lot of work, but I'll give it a try. You never know."

One by one we said our goodbyes to the little creatures in our hands and entrusted them to the Cat Lady. We thanked her and headed back the way we came, ignoring any uncertainty about their futures. To our way of thinking, what could be so difficult? Don't you just give them food and water and watch them grow? Th e biggest dilemma was whether your mum or dad would let you do it a your house, not whether or not it could be done.

Looking back, I realize that no one earns the moniker Cat Lady by having one or two cats lounging around the homestead. How many cats does it take to go from cat lover to collector of cats? Six, a dozen, a hundred? When does devotion become obsession, become something compulsive, pathological, and terribly sad? All I can tell you is our Cat Lady may have benefited from opening a window or two, neutering all her male cats, and investing in a little Febreze, but from what I saw of her cat rescue operation she was no hoarder of cats. The animals out back appeared to be in good health and well looked after. I simply had no point of reference for the smell of tomcat pee in confined spaces.

Excerpted from Ever By My Side by Dr. Nick Trout. Copyright © 2011 by Dr. Nick Trout. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Dr. Nick Trout

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.