Waiting for Gertrude: A Graveyard Gothic
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Waiting for Gertrude: A Graveyard Gothic

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  140 ratings  ·  31 reviews
In Paris's Pere-Lachaise cemetery lie the bones of many renowned departed. It is also home to a large number of stray cats. Now, what if by some strange twist of fate, the souls of the famous were reborn in the cats with their personalities intact? There's Maria Callas, a wilful and imperious diva, wailing late into the night. Earthy, bawdy chanteuse Edith Piaf is a foul-m...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published October 20th 2003 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2001)
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Che storia graziosa e divertente!
La storia si svolge nel cimitero parigino Père-Lachaise dove vive una colonia di gatti randagi; ma non sono gatti comuni perché ogni micio è una reincarnazione di un personaggio illustre seppellito in quel cimitero e tutti si ricordano delle loro vite umane.
La narratrice principale è Alice B. Toklas che aspetta ansiosamente l'incarnazione della sua amata Gertrude Stein. Nel frattempo si dedica a preparare stuzzichini e manicaretti a base di hashish e accudisce le...more
If you love cats, and you love France, and you have an extremely peculiar sense of humor and an appreciation for the absurd, I think you'll love this book. You may even adore it.

Waiting for Gertrude is set in Paris' gargantuan Pere Lachaise cemetery, where the souls of some of the notables buried therein have returned to Earth (translated, to use their term) as cats. A befurred Alice B. Toklas (the book's narrator) is waiting, and waiting, and waiting for her dear Gertrude Stein to reincarnate (...more
This fantasy will not be for everyone--it's definitely not a children's book. Richardson posits that many of the cats in Paris's Pere Lachaise cemetery are, in fact, reincarnated versions of some of the famous people buried there. Some retain their two-legged characteristics--Isadora Duncan is now a dancing cat--and some take up new occupations--Marcel Proust is an introspective private investigator. But the main character is Alice B. Toklas, waiting for the long-delayed reincarnation of her bel...more
Kate Schultz
Aug 14, 2009 Kate Schultz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kate by: Angela Iannone
Oh, what a fun book! Recommended by my dear friend Angela, it tells the story of the cats in the Pere LaChaise graveyard in France. The souls of the famous people buried in Pere LaChaise have been reincarnated into the cats--so we hear of the interactions of Sarah Bernhardt, Maria Callas, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Colette, Edith Piaf, Moliere, and others. The book's main character is Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein's real-life partner, who is patiently waiting for Gertrude to be reincarnated. A...more
An incredibly funny book. If you like cats, you will like this book. Alice B Toklas has translated(authors word) into a cat in a Parisian cemetery along with other famous people who are four legged cats also. Except for Isadora Duncan who only has three legs. I have laughed so hard. You must read it if you have not.
A bit of whimsy in which the famous people buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris— Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Colette, etc.—are reincarnated as the graveyard’s many cats; I actually found it rather disturbing. There are some nice moments— Alice B. Toklas’ longing for the thus far absent Gertrude Stein forms the heart of the book, and it’s appropriately achy and passionate; I was also really struck by a scene with Chopin in which he morns the fact that his music must now remain entirely...more
This was an awesome story. But as noted by others, it will not be for everyone.

The story takes place at the Pere LaChaise Cemetery in Paris. This cemetery is the final resting place of many very famous characters. This includes the likes of Jim Morrison, Marcus Proust, Moliere, Oscar Wilde, and the main character, Alice B. Toklas. In this cemetery, these people are reincarnated as cats. Yes, cats! These cats have in turn taken on the persona and habits of the people they once were. As the main...more
Told from the point of view of several feral cats who inhabit Pere-Lachaise cemetery (many of whom are reincarnations of the famous people interred there), this story is part love story, part detective story. The main voice is that of Alice B. Tolkas, who spends a large part of the story plotting and waiting for the reincarnation of Gertrude Stein. There are also several cats in the story who have items come up missing and ask the cemetery detective to find them. Overall, this book was fairly e...more
Many famous people are buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. This book is written with the idea that the feral cats roaming the grounds are actually the reincarnations of the graves' residents. The plot revolves around Alice B. Toklas as she waits for the reincarnation of Gertrude Stein to arrive. In the meantime there are side dramas involving Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Sarah Bernhardt, Chopin, and many more. I believe I would have gotten more out of this had I been more familiar with the...more
What a charming little book! I was immediately intrigued by the premise that many of the cats in the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery were reincarnated souls of the famous who were interred there. The story centers around Alice B Toklas who has been reincarnated in cat form and is waiting for Gertrude Stein to be reincarnated as well. There are many other famous characters in the book...my favorite being Oscar Wilde who is in love with Jim Morrison. Parts of this book were rather slow but there were other...more
This is a clever, fun, entertaining combination of history and fiction, transforming historical characters (Jim Morrison and Gertrude Stein among many others) into cats and chronicling their antics in the famous Paris cemetary where all the actual people are buried - Pere Lachaise.

This is a quick and easy read, but the way the author endows the cats with the attributes of the people and puts them into interesting situations is a lot of fun. Great dialogue between the characters too - seriously s...more
Anything but ordinary, a wonderful tale of reincarnation and opiates. A favorite, and I would reread it, but I left my copy on Gertrude's headstone...
I usually love Bill Richardson, so I went and bought this book. Read it. I seem to recall it being somewhat risque in spots, although the story was imaginatively told. Kept it for a long time, then decided that it really wasn't what I wanted on my shelf, so sold it. If nothing else, it gave me an interest in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, and the book was certainly entertaining in Bill Richardson's imitable style. I wish I could with good conscience give it more stars, but alas...
What a wonderful clever and fascinating book. And such a pleasurable and witty one too! When you like cats and early twentieth century literature you're in for a treat. A visit to Pere Lachaise Cemetry is no obligation, but as I found is quite stimulating to the mind while Miss Toklas and all her companiins ask for your attention through Richardson's spell binding pen. A book is a book is a book but Richardson's is a felineating tale. Thank you Sharon and Al!
Stewie's Mom
Jun 18, 2011 Stewie's Mom marked it as to-read
I'm still working my way though this title. It is kind hard to read, but so far I enjoy Collette the best.

I just got this book on Saturday. I started it Sunday, and haven't read too far into it. I love the idea, however.

I've currently got this one sitting on standby. I'll get back to it eventually, but for right now, there are too many others to choose from!
A strange read - I skimmed through the second half because so many of the interesting moments were couched in long, slow ones. The descriptions also slowed me down somewhat; I had to reread several passages just to understand what was being said via somewhat roundabout language. Enjoyable premise though, and when the writing was strong, it was very strong.
This is a really funny book which depicts literary and artistic geniuses reincarnated as pharaoh cats of Père-Lachaise graveyard in Paris. The protagonist is none other than Alice B. Toklas, waiting patiently for the soul of her beloved Gertude Stein to arrive in the form of a cat. Meanwhile, she spends her days with Isadora Duncan and Jim Morrison.
I enjoyed how each chapter of this book was told from the point of view of a different character, which gave different perspectives to how the events were unfolding. Being famous celebrity characters, it was fun to read their personalitiies and, in the case of the authors, see their writing styles come out in the chapter that they were narrating.
I thought this sounded intriguing but didn't enjoy the 'high falutin' language at all, though I LOVED another book by him about two men running a B & B...can't recall the name of that. No doubt it is reviewed on this site, though. The idea that cats are the reincarnation of notable people is clever, just didn't care for how it was presented.
Fun twist . . . celebrities reincarnated as felines who inhabit the infamous Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.
Kristy McRae
This book is an absolute trip! I loved it! What a hysterical premise, and the characters are fabulous--Jim Morrison as a tom cat...think of all the joke possibilities there...
I shared this book with my husband as part of our weekly story-time. It's a great book, a fun look at some famous people. It's not a serious book, but it is great fun.
This book is wonderful! Full of puns and literary references it builds to an incredible and satisfying finale -- especially if you are fond of cats.
Sarah Miller
May 06, 2009 Sarah Miller rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sarah by: Nancy Pearl's "More Book Lust"
Shelves: 2009
Clever, entertaining, highly literary story. Amusing and enjoyable, especially if you've been lucky enough to visit Pere-Lachaise.
An intriguing concept from beginning to end. A fun read. Makes me want to go and see Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris!!
Susan Wierenga
One of my favorite reads. it combines my love of cats with my love for a great story.
This is unlike any book I have ever read before, and I loved it!
A bizarre story idea, beautifully executed. I highly recommend it.
Brenda Martin
Every artist and English major will LOVE this book!
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Bill was born and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba on a quiet little street. He admits to being a shy kid, a quality that has carried over into his adulthood. With his two brothers and the neighborhood children, Bill would play hide and seek, red rover and tag. They got into the usual sorts of mischief: garden raids and snowball fights.

Bill has always taken comfort in reading. As a child his tastes w...more
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