Love Saves the Day

Love Saves the Day

by Gwen Cooper


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From the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Homer’s Odyssey comes a tender, joyful, utterly unforgettable novel, primarily told through the eyes of the most observant member of any human family: the cat.

Humans best understand the truth of things if they come at it indirectly. Like how sometimes the best way to catch a mouse that’s right in front of you is to back up before you pounce.

So notes Prudence, the irresistible brown tabby at the center of Gwen Cooper’s tender, joyful, utterly unforgettable novel, which is mostly told through the eyes of this curious (and occasionally cranky) feline.

When five-week-old Prudence meets a woman named Sarah in a deserted construction site on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, she knows she’s found the human she was meant to adopt. For three years their lives are filled with laughter, tuna, catnaps, music, and the unchanging routines Prudence craves. Then one day Sarah doesn’t come home. From Prudence’s perch on the windowsill she sees Laura, the daughter who hardly ever comes to visit Sarah, arrive with her new husband. They’re carrying boxes. Before they even get to the front door, Prudence realizes that her life has changed forever.

Suddenly Prudence finds herself living in a strange apartment with humans she barely knows. It could take years to train them in the feline courtesies and customs (for example, a cat should always be fed before the humans, and at the same exact time every day) that Sarah understood so well. Prudence clings to the hope that Sarah will come back for her while Laura, a rising young corporate attorney, tries to push away memories of her mother and the tumultuous childhood spent in her mother’s dusty downtown record store. But the secret joys, past hurts, and life-changing moments that make every mother-daughter relationship special will come to the surface. With Prudence’s help Laura will learn that the past, like a mother’s love, never dies.

Poignant, insightful, and laugh-out-loud funny, Love Saves the Day is a story of hope, healing, and how the love of an animal can make all of us better humans. It’s the story of a mother and daughter divided by the turmoil of bohemian New York, and the opinionated, irrepressible feline who will become the bridge between them. It’s a novel for anyone who’s ever lost a loved one, wondered what their cat was really thinking, or fallen asleep with a purring feline nestled in their arms. Prudence, a cat like no other, is sure to steal your heart.

Praise for Love Saves the Day
“Prudence [is a] sassy but sensitive feline heroine.”—Time

“Unforgettably moving . . . a hard one to put down.”—Modern Cat
“If you are the Most Important Person to a cat, you will hold them much tighter by the book’s end. If you don’t have a cat, Prudence will have surreptitiously lured you into the danger zone: Falling in love with a cat because they need family, too.”—The Vancouver Sun
“Cooper brings readers a fictional tale that cat lovers will treasure. . . . This book will make most readers laugh and cry, and probably lead them to wonder more often what, exactly, their pet is thinking.”—Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star
“The interspersed viewpoints . . . enrich Cooper’s sensitively told novel that unravels a story (based on actual events) about a century-old tenement building—and the inhabitants therein. That story ultimately serves as the basis to understanding the emotional subtexts of these authentic, well-drawn characters.”—Shelf Awareness

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345526953
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/22/2013
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 428,737
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Gwen Cooper is the New York Times bestselling author of the memoir Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat and the novel Diary of a South Beach Party Girl. She is active with numerous animal welfare organizations. Gwen lives in Manhattan with her husband, Laurence. She also lives with her three perfect cats—Homer, Clayton, and Fanny—who aren’t impressed with any of it.

Read an Excerpt

1     Prudence     There are two ways humans have of not telling the truth. The first used to be hard for me to understand because it doesn’t come with any of the usual signs of not-truth-telling. Like the time Sarah called my white paws “socks.” Look at your adorable littlesocks, she said. Socks are what humans wear on their feet to make them more like cats’ paws. But my paws are already padded and soft, and I can’t imagine any self-respecting cat tolerating something as silly as socks for very long.   So at first I thought Sarah was trying to trick me by saying something that wasn’t true. Like the time she took me to the Bad Place and said, Don’t worry, they’re going to make you healthy and strong. I knew from the tightness in her voice when she putme into my carrier that some betrayal was coming. And it turned out I was right. They stabbed me with sharp things there and forced me to hold still while human fingers poked into every part of my body, even my mouth.   When it was all over, the lady who did it put me back into my carrier and told Sarah, Prudence has such cute white socks! She was smiling and calm when she said it, so I knew she wasn’t trying to trick Sarah like Sarah had tried to trick me about goingthere in the first place. I thought maybe I should lick my paws or do something to show them that these were my real feet, not the fake feet humans put on before they go outside. I thought that maybe humans weren’t as smart as cats and wouldn’t understand suchsubtle distinctions unless they were pointed out.   That was when I was very young, just a kitten, really—back when I first came to live with Sarah. Now I know that humans sometimes best understand the truth of things if they come at it indirectly. Like how sometimes the best way to catch a mouse that’sright in front of you is to back up a bit before you pounce.   And later at home, looking at my reflection in Sarah’s mirror (once I realized it was my reflection and not some other cat who was trying to take my home away from me), I saw how the bottoms of my legs did look a bit like the socks Sarah sometimes wears.   Still, to say that they were socks and not that they looked like socks was clearly untrue.   The other way humans have of not telling the truth is when they’re trying to trick one another outright. Like when Laura visits and says, I’m sorry I haven’t been here in such a long time, Mom, I really wanted to come sooner . . . and it’s obvious, bythe way her face turns light pink and her shoulders tense, that what she really means is she never wants to come here. And Sarah says, Oh, of course, I understand, when you can tell by the way her voice gets higher and her eyebrows scrunch up that she doesn’tunderstand at all.   I used to wonder where the rest of Laura’s littermates were and how come they never came over to see us. But I don’t think Laura has any littermates. Maybe humans have smaller litters than cats, or maybe something happened to the others. After all, I usedto have littermates, too.   But that was a long time ago. Before I found Sarah.       The Bad Place is a short walk from where we live in a place called Lower East Side. (Technically, it was Sarah who walked there, because I was in my carrier. Still, it didn’t take her very long, and cats can walk faster than humans. That’s a fact.) Thelady there told Sarah that I’m a polydactyl brown tabby. Sarah asked if that meant I was some kind of flying dinosaur? The lady laughed and said, no, it just means I have extra toes. I’m not sure which of my toes are supposed to be the “extra” ones though,because I’m positive I need them all. And it’s not really true to say I’m brown because parts of me are white—like my chest and my chin and the bottoms of my legs. Also, my eyes are green. And even the parts of me that are brown have darker stripes that arealmost black. But I’ve noticed that humans aren’t as precise as cats are. It’s hard to believe they feel safe enough to sleep at night.   The stabbing lady also told Sarah that I was too skinny, which was to be expected because I’d been living by myself on the street. She said I’d probably fatten up quickly. I’ve gotten much taller and longer since then, but I’m still pretty skinny. Sarahsays I’m lucky to stay that way without having to try. But the truth is I’m skinny because I never eat all the food Sarah gives me. That’s because even though she feeds me every day, she never feeds me at exactly the same time. Sometimes she feeds me firstthing in the morning, sometimes she feeds me when it’s closer to midday. There have even been times when she hasn’t fed me until after it’s dark. That’s why I always make sure to keep some food left over, in case one day Sarah forgets to feed me altogether.   And it turns out I was right to worry. Sarah hasn’t been home to feed me—hasn’t been home at all—in five days. The first two days I had to get by on what was left over in my food bowl. I even jumped onto the counter where my bag of dry food is kept andused my teeth and claws to make a small hole in it so I could get some food out myself. (I would normally never do that because it’s bad manners. But sometimes there are things more important than manners.)   Finally, on the third day, a woman I recognized as one of our neighbors came over and opened a can of food for me. Prudence! she called. Come and eat, poor kitty, you must be so hungry.   I had been waiting under the couch for her to leave, but I came out when I heard the can open. The woman tried to stroke my head, though, so I had to go back under the couch again and twitch the muscles on my back very fast until I felt calm. I don’t liketo be touched by humans I don’t know well. So I waited until she left before I came out to eat, even though I was starving after two days with hardly any food.   The woman has been back to feed me every day since then, although I still won’t come out from under-the-couch until she’s gone. Maybe she’s trying to trap me with the food. Maybe she’s already trapped Sarah somewhere, and that’s why Sarah hasn’t been homefor so long.   To pass the time while I wait for Sarah to come back, I sit on the windowsill—the one that overlooks the fire escape Sarah says I’m never, ever supposed to go onto—and watch what’s happening on the street. This also gives me a clear view of the entranceto our building, which means I’ll see Sarah as soon as she comes back.   To get to the windowsill, I jump from the floor to the coffee table, and then from the coffee table to the couch. Then I climb to the back of the couch and step right onto the windowsill. I can jump directly from the floor to the windowsill, of course(I could jump much higher than that if I had to), but this way I can check to make sure everything is safe and exactly the way I left it. If the little, everyday things don’t change, it makes sense that the bigger and more important things won’t change, either.If I keep doing things the way I always do, Sarah will have to come back the way she always does. Probably I made a mistake of some kind a few days ago—did something in a different order than I’m supposed to—and that’s what made her go away.   Sarah and I have been roommates for three years, one month, and sixteen days. I would tell you how many hours and seconds we’ve been together, but cats don’t use hours and seconds. We know that’s something humans made up. Cats have an instinct that tellsus exactly when the right time for everything is. Humans never know when they’re supposed to do anything, so they need things like clocks and timers to tell them. Twice a year, Sarah sets all the clocks in our apartment forward one hour or back one hour, andthat just proves how made-up hours are. Because it’s not like you can tell everybody to move the world one whole day back or one whole year ahead and have it be true.   You might think Sarah and I are a family because we live together, but not everybody who lives together is a family. Sometimes they’re roommates. The difference is that, in a family, everybody does things together, and they do those things at the sametime every day. They all eat breakfast with each other, and breakfast is always at the same time in the morning. Then they have dinner together, and that always happens at the same time, too. They take each other to school or work and then pick each other upfrom those places a few hours later, and both the picking-up and the dropping-off happen on a schedule. I learned all about it from the TV shows Sarah and I watch together. Even the TV shows about families always come on at the same time, every day.   (I used to think that the things on TV were really happening, right here in our apartment. Once I tried to catch a mouse that was on the TV screen. I clawed and clawed at the glass and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get the mouse. And Sarah laughedand explained that TV is like a window, except it shows you things that are happening far away.)   With roommates, it’s more like you have separate lives even though you live in the same place. Things happen when they happen and not at any specific time. Also, families live in houses with an upstairs and a downstairs. Roommates live in apartments. Sarahand I live in an apartment, and our schedule is always different. Sarah says this is because they always change the times she’s supposed to work. She types things for a big office in a place called Midtown, and she’s so good at typing that sometimes they needher to type early in the morning, and sometimes they need her to type later in the day. Sometimes they pay her a lot of extra money to type all night and not come home until after the sun comes up, which is when most other humans are first starting to work.   Money is what Sarah uses to get food for me and to keep our apartment. She always says you have to get it when you can get it, even if you wish you didn’t have to. I know just what she means, because sometimes a cat has to chase her food when it runs by,even if she’s in the middle of a really great nap. Who knows when the next time food runs by will be? That’s why smart cats spend most of their time napping—to save their energy for when they suddenly need it.   But even on the days she doesn’t work, Sarah doesn’t do things on anything like a regular schedule. Sometimes I have to meow in my saddest voice and paw at her leg to remind her it’s time to feed me. I feel bad when I have to do that, because I can tellfrom her face how unhappy it makes her when she forgets to do things for me. But she usually laughs a little in the way that humans do when they’re trying to make something sad into something funny, and says she supposes the reason she’s so forgetful is becauseshe has an artistic temperament, even though it’s been years since she’s done anything creative.   I’m not sure what a “temperament” is. Maybe it’s something an artist makes. Or maybe it’s something an artist uses to make something else. Whatever it is, though, I’ve never seen anything like that around here.   You might think from all this that I’m complaining about living with Sarah, but that’s not true. Living with Sarah is actually pretty great. For one thing, she’s always willing to share her food with me. When she sits down to eat, she usually puts someof her food on a little plate off to the side, and I sit on the table and eat with her. Although sometimes Sarah eats things that are just plain gross. There’s one kind of food, called “cookies,” that Sarah especially loves even though they don’t have any meator grass or anything in them. Sarah laughs when I turn up my nose in disgust and says I don’t know what I’m missing. I think Sarah’s the one who doesn’t know what’s supposed to be eaten and what isn’t.   There are two rooms in our apartment. In the room with our kitchen is also our couch and television and coffee table. This is the room people are allowed into when they come to visit us, although people hardly ever come to visit us except for Laura and,sometimes, Sarah’s best friend, Anise. Anise only comes over two or three times a year because her job is going on tours in a place called Asia. Laura won’t come over if she knows Anise will be here, but Sarah and I are always happy to see Anise because whenAnise smiles she smiles with her whole face, and she never says anything even a little untrue. Also, as Sarah likes to say, Anise is a person who understands cats. (As much as a human can, anyway.) When I first came to live with Sarah, she brought home a “self-cleaning”litterbox that would make a terrifying whirrrrrrr noise whenever I tried to use it. (I think it planned to keep itself clean by never letting me use it.) It scared me so much that I started going on the living room rug just to avoid it, which made Sarah veryunhappy with me even though it clearly wasn’t my fault. This went on for weeks until finally Anise came over and wrinkled her nose at the smell from the rug that now filled our whole apartment. Ugh, she said, doesn’t Prudence have a litterbox? Then she sawthe “self-cleaning” monster Sarah had brought home and said, Sarah, you’re scaring the piss out of her with that thing. (Although really the piss was getting scared into me until I couldn’t hold it anymore.) She took Sarah right out to buy me a regular litterbox,and we didn’t have any problems after that.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Once again, Gwen Cooper shines her light on the territory that defines the human/animal bond. In Love Saves the Day, she creates an emotional landscape so beautifully complete that we can't help but share in the heartbreaks and triumphs of her characters, regardless of their species." —-Jackson Galaxy, author of Cat Daddy

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Love Saves the Day: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
fiona64 More than 1 year ago
Gwen Cooper's "Love Saves the Day" is the story of Prudence, a little brown tabby cat who is rescued in a rain storm by Sarah. When Sarah passes away, Prudence goes to live with Laura (Sarah's daughter) and her husband Josh ... who don't seem to really understand how to live with a cat. Of course, there's more to the story than meets the eye. Laura is an associate at a high-powered law firm; Josh is a successful marketing/PR rep. Like Sarah, Josh is passionate about music; Laura seems to be only passionate about her work. Throughout the course of the story we see how Laura got to that point in her life; she grew up on the Lower East Side of New York and saw a lot of poverty and want in her own life and around her. It is her growth that is really chronicled here. Told through the eyes of Prudence, Laura and Sarah, this is a story of love, resilience and compassion. I am not ashamed to admit that I spent a lot of time crying as I read the last 100 pages of this book. Ms. Cooper has created a group of characters, like the elderly Mandelbaums who function as Laura's surrogate grandparents, who feel like friends and neighbors to the reader. The story is reeled out at a good pace, and keeps your interest throughout. I cannot say enough good about this book and recommend it for animal lovers everywhere.
IngridKing More than 1 year ago
From the moment I turned the final page of Gwen Cooper's New York Times bestseller, Homer's Odyssey, I was hoping that Cooper would write another cat themed book. When I heard her read the first chapter of Love Saves the Day at a local event this past September, I knew this book was something very special. A book like this doesn't come along every day. Love Saves the Day is a novel written from three points of view. The primary narrator is Prudence, a brown tabby rescued from a deserted construction site on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Prudence is a keen observer of humans and knows them better than they know themselves at times The story begins when one day Sarah, Prudence's human, doesn't come home from work. Prudence's world falls apart. For a few days, a neighbor feeds her, then Sarah's daugher Laura, who hardly ever came to visit, arrives with her husband. They're both carrying boxes. Suddenly, Prudence finds herself living in an unfamiliar apartment with two humans who she barely knows, and who don't seem to understand cats. Prudence realizes that it could take years to train them in the way of cats. Prudence spends most of her days near the boxes with Sarah's things in a spare bedroom in the new apartment, grieving for Sarah, trying to hang on to her memories and find comfort by being close to the things that still smell like Sarah. Meanwhile, Laura tries to push away anything that reminds her of her mother and her childhood spent in the midst of the Lower East Side music scene of the 1970s. Told from the three alternating points of view - Prudence's, Laura's and Sarah's - the past of a troubled mother-daughter relationship is revealed, culminating in one defining moment that changes the trajectory of everyone's lives. The best writers paint a picture with their words. In Love Saves the Day, Cooper masterfully paints a sweeping emotional landscape with a gentle, light touch. She effortlessly switches back and forth between the three different voices, but I think it's a testament to how well she captured Prudence's voice that I found myself thinking about how Prudence would tell even the parts of the story that are written from Laura or Sarah's point of view. Cooper presents a lot of different topics in this novel: Prudence at the center of the book, the music scene of the 1970s in Lower Manhattan, the issue of what happens to pets whose guardians die, the real life event of a building on the Lower East Side that was demolished in 1998 and plays a pivotal role in the story, and a complicated mother daughter relationship that crosses several decades. Cooper weaves all of these threads into a beautiful, cohesive whole. Hauntingly beautiful, heart touching, and at times painfully raw, this is a story about grief, hope and healing. It's a story about the importance of memories, and of preserving a part of one's past. It is the story of a mother daughter relationship that shows that deep rifts can be mended even after death. But ultimately, this is a book about love, and how one small cat, through her mere presence, can change multiple lives. This book will stay with you long after you turn the final page. And it already makes me look forward to Gwen Cooper's next book.
Essay33 More than 1 year ago
It would be easy to dismiss "Love Saves the Day" as light fiction aimed solely at cat lovers. That assessment would be a mistake. Author Gwen Cooper explores the heavy topics of mother-daughter relationships, love, loss and grief with gentleness and deep insight leavened with a dash of humor. The key to Cooper's deft exploration is Prudence, a cat through whose eyes much of the story is told. Cooper understands cats, and she also understands how to wrap profound truths in a tale that touches a reader's heart. You'll be thinking about Prudence, her Most Important Persons Laura and Sarah, and your own relationship with your parents long after you've finished the novel.
ReaderNancy More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. Prudence grabbed at my heart and my emotions. I hope Gwen Cooper will consider writing a sequel to this wonderful story.
MontoyaGato More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much.Again as with Homer's Odyssey  Gwen takes you into the mind of the cat like no other author can.It made me cry but also laughed.I would recommend this book to anyone,especially if you love Animals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is highly reccomended for all readers, and itll make you start thinking about what actually goes on in your cats head and what they actually know! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! That is all. Truely though the elements of this story were done so well. This is a must read for any cat lover or even non-cat lover. I foundthis story so touching and I cried through the last 100 pages. Read this! You may even find yourself singing Dear Prudence for days!
kazbels More than 1 year ago
I loved this story. It was so good. It made me cry and laugh and hold my breath at times. A wonderful story of a mother, a daughter, their cat, broken relationships and how love can heal. I highly recommend "Love Saves the Day".
Tigerlibrarian More than 1 year ago
One of the best (if not THE best) books with a cat narrator I've ever read. It's obvious that Gwen Cooper has studied cats, loves cats and ultimately understands them. She's also pretty darn great in her understanding of relationships between mother and daughters...made me laugh. Made me cry. Made me want to read it again...but DANG it! I ordered for our library collection and felt I needed to get it out where my patrons could find it. I will read it again. You should too!
gray73 More than 1 year ago
I love animals--love cats and recommend this author. It is a highly enjoyable experience.
the_librarionCW More than 1 year ago
I was very pleased with the speed at which I received my order, the condition it was promised to be was on the money and the story (including Prudence's face on the cover) was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Very much like life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'll start off by saying that I'm owned by a cat who is vey much personified by the peotgonist cat of this book. I originally bought the book as gift for my sister whi called me raving over it. The fact that this story is carefully weaved arround an actual, tragic event that occurred in New York City makes it far more than a story about an anthropomorhised cat. Thebook will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and in the end it will make you feel good for having read it. I can only hope that Mayor Rudolph Guilianni reaps his just rewards - I'd be willing to bet that no cat would ever take him on as that "one special person," cats know bad people when they see them. Thanks for a great read!
the1pony More than 1 year ago
I pretty much cried my eyes out the whole time I was reading this book. heh. Beautifully written story- I absolutely loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not really a cat lover but loved this cat and the characters, good story, think I'll read it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a cat lover most of my life I found this book to be very enjoyable. Lots of giggles with the feline point of view. Commentary of society was also "point on". I would recommend this book any of my friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the perfect book for a cat lover, but even if you don't "love" cats you will still enjoy this wonderful storey. I laughed And cried And could read it all over again
Ilene_713 More than 1 year ago
An absolutely incredible novel that is written from Gwen's heart filled with characters who are relatable, and who you care about. At the center of the book is Prudence the Tabby Cat who is the catalyst to set relationships straight, save strained relationships - and make readers fall in love with her. I can only pray for a sequel!
lisalulu32 More than 1 year ago
If you aren't a cat person, this book is still for you. As a whole it is a story about love. If you are a cat person it is a wonderful story from a cats point of view that will touch your heart. Being owned by 3 cats I now wonder more than ever what they are thinking about me and what they'd say. I think I may have cried all the cries during my reading of this and this book will always remain dear to my heart.
duchenf More than 1 year ago
I am not generally into pet fiction, but this book is so much more. A solid story that grabbed my interest and held it to a satisfying finish. I highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must read for cat lovers!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Arlene70AL More than 1 year ago
About 3/4 of this story is told by the cat. Very cute and endearing. The rest is narrated by the two owners. A lovely look at the relationship of the cat to the owners and the relationship of the owners to each other. Very endearing story. If you love cats, you'll love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a cat lover and I was not impressed with this book. I felt that the book was a little cheesy for my taste and the solutions to problems didn't give me a sense of closure. I really couldn't wait to finish this book and move onto the next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago