Watchers by the Pool

by Margaret Reinhold. Carroll & Graf, $18.95. The author “practiced neurology and psychiatry in London” before removing to a renovated farmhouse in Provence, accompanied by her two cats. She soon acquired eight more cats, because Provençal country people are less than generous with cat food. These cats— usually referred to as “beautiful cats,” although a healthy cat that is not beautiful is almost as rare as a hen’s tooth—became companions whose feuds, alliances, tastes, and prejudices the author observed with psychiatric enthusiasm. She also conducted conversations with them. Readers who appreciate descriptions of Provençal scenery and respect the idiosyncratic character of cats should enjoy the book. Readers who disapprove of anthropomorphism will loathe it.