Most dog lovers have, at some point, seen the movie “Must Love Dogs” that stars John Cusack and Diane Lane. What many don’t know is that the author, Claire Cook, had a much-loved dog of her own. Her dog passed away shortly after they moved to Atlanta to be closer to family.
And just when she and her retired husband thought that not having a dog would allow them more time to travel, a stray cat gave birth to a litter of kittens under her front steps. Of course Claire and her family rescued — and kept — them all!
That story has finally made it into one of her “Must Love Dogs” series of books, the latest one, “Must Love Dogs: Who Let the Cats In?” Is it a coincidence that her readers have been begging for a cat story for years?
While this version is slightly fictionalized (you can read the actual account in her nonfiction book “Never Too Late”), many aspects ring true. Cook admits, “We were all worried we missed a kitten (under the steps). We all kept checking every time we walked over the spot she had lived.”
Cook says, “My first goal is always to give the readers something they will enjoy and also to uplift and motivate them.” She also wanted to include something that would encourage readers to rescue or foster a pet. “Many readers told me that they had never thought of fostering. Some tell me that I made them think about going to the local shelter to adopt a companion.” Cook included information about how much longer indoor cats live than outdoor cats. She said, “I tried to include as much information as I could without getting in the way of the story.”
In the story, Cook relates how main characters Sarah Hurlihy and John Anderson rescue the stray cat family after moving in together and learn to deal with Sarah’s very eccentric father and other assorted issues. The writing demonstrates Cook’s signature style with first person narrative channeling Sarah’s personality, character and thoughts. Female readers really empathize with Sarah and her family; and there’s someone of every generation for readers to connect with.
While this is the fifth installment in the series, the story certainly works as a stand-alone novel. Cook cleverly adds just enough backstory to make the reader feel at home even starting the series with this story. But why miss out on the fun to be had reading the four books that preceded this one? Get them all and have a “Must Love Dogs” read-a-thon!
Will future books include more animals? “There might have to be,” she said. Cook and her husband recently took a trip to France to research the book she’s working on now, a sequel to “Wildwater Walking Club.”
“I took pictures of dogs and cats everywhere. Animals are so important in our lives. My books are about real people, and dogs and cats are a huge part of our lives.” Don’t miss this dog — and now cat — filled series.