Cat's Table feels and tastes like memoir, with detail richly drawn from the memory of senses.
The main body of the story takes place over a period of three weeks, as three boys make their passage to England. Dinners are sat at the lowly "cats table" with a group of eccentric adults.
The dreamlike prose is extremely rich with metaphor. The ship's passage to another continent and culture, three archetypal boys in the process of losing their innocence and childhood, a prisoner allowed to walk at night, a deaf daughter who swallows keys, a garden apothecary. A floating world.
Although said of a specific character, this sentence could apply to the telling of the entire story.
"Twenty-one days is a very brief period in a life, but I would never unlearn the whisper of Cassius."
If this were a photograph it would have blurred edges and sepia tones, but be matted on a modern mirrored surface and held in place with a water frame. Or maybe painted on the floor of a pool, then filled with water.
Not the typical unfolding of a plot, a bit of a jumble, with past, future and present entwined. Several reviews say this is one of the author's most accessible stories.