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The Mechanical Cat

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  925 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Thus starts Torey Hayden's newest novel, a fascinating study of family interactions, emotional disturbance and, in the end, creativity.

Conor, aged nine, arrives in the play therapy room of child psychiatrist James Innes with the diagnosis "autistic". His mother Laura, an aloof, enigmatic novelist, can not handle him. His rancher father, embroiled in divorcing Laura, does n
Paperback, 525 pages
Published 1999 (first published 1996)
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Hannah Almond
Nov 10, 2014 Hannah Almond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't quite describe how engrossed I became in this compelling novel. It is so complex. It took me a few chapters to get used to the multi-layered layout of the story. How it flicks between the therapy sessions of Connor & his sister Morgana, their parents (Laura & Alan) & James’s the therapist’s life, was a little confusing to me at first. Once I got used to this format, I found the whole story absolutely fascinating!! Especially Laura's sessions with James! The vividness of Laura ...more
Dec 02, 2011 Erika rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Shelves: 2011
First, let me say that normally I love Torey Hayden's writings. I've read many of her nonfiction novels about her own experiences in working with disturbed children. But I could not finish this book. The writing was well done, as always with Hayden. The synopsis leads you to believe it's mainly about an autistic child's therapy treatment. But the story got way too far away from this. The majority of the plot was centered around the mother's fantasy imagination as she grew up. I think Hayden woul ...more
Oct 12, 2015 Kris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I really don't even know where to begin with this one. I guess I could start with a general observation about the author: Hayden is an American (grew up in Montana), writing about events taking place in the United States, but moved to Wales in 1980 and (I believe) still lives there. Although her fictional characters and the real people she writes about are all from the United States, she still peppers her books with British words. I'm not just talking about spelling color "colour", or saying "so ...more
Mar 20, 2010 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nine year old Conor comes to James as an autistic child in need of help. James, a psychiatrist, starts with play therapy and discovers that Conor is not autistic but is very, very troubled and emotionally disturbed. Little by little Conor who feels very safe in James' play therapy room starts to communicate. He sees ghosts and is haunted by them.

James decides to involve the whole family and starts to hear Laura's, Conor's mother, story. Laura is a famous writer. She weaves a story about her life
Initial impressions

I started out with reasonably high hopes for this book, the premise sounded great, right up my street and it read well albeit it perhaps a little slow if anything for the first couple of chapters. Anyway it soon became apparent aside from having very little in the way of actual plot, that it was going to take a weird turn. The book soon turned from a psychological case study regarding an autistic kid to becoming centred around a weird fantasy life of the kids mother when she
Erilainen, ehkä liiankin

Mielestäni tämä kirja oli kiinnostavalla tavalla erilainen, leikitellen tarinankerronnan rajoilla. En ollut vielä lukenut kirjaa joka olisi kerrottu osissa. Kokonaisuus kuitenkin tökki. Kirjan alussa saa kuvan, että tarina perustuisi juuri tämän sähkökissan omistajaan, Conoriin. Poikaan jota kaikki luulevat autistikseksi. Hänet tuodaan James-nimiselle terapeutille,sillä hän ei usko diagnoosia. Tämä kuvaus kirjasta sai minut valitsemaan sen. Pian kuitenkin otetaankin odott
Gemengde gevoelens heb ik over dit boek. De verwachting van het boek is deels zeer goed uitgekomen, maar deels ook helemaal niet.
Dit boek gaat over de negenjarige Conor die de diagnose autisme heeft en in therapie komt bij kinderpsychiater James. James werkt vanuit een methodiek waarbij het hele gezin betrokken wordt bij de therapie en niet alleen het kind in kwestie.
Laura, de moeder van Conor, lijkt in een net zo grote fantasiewereld te leven als Conor. Ook zij komt voor gesprekken bij James. A
Torey Hayden - Overheard in a Dream / The Mechanical Cat Victoria Lynn Hayden, known as Torey L. Hayden, is a child psychologist, special education teacher, university lecturer and writer of non-fiction books based on her real-life experiences with teaching and counseling children with special needs
Conor is nine and autistic, or at least this is what his mother, Laura, an aloof, self-absorbed novelist, thinks when she entrusts his care to child psychiatrist James Innes as a stop-gap while the f
Sep 16, 2009 Booksofdoom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the best book yet from the always very entertaining Torey Hayden.

The original title is The Mechanical Cat (fiction, 1999), but it was not published in English. I read it in Swedish. And is seems also to be published in Italian, Finnish, Japanese, and Indonesian.

This book is, unlike Torey Hayden's usual work, not from her own life, but pure fiction.

It is set both in our real world and in a fantasy world belonging to one of the main characters. There are many differences from the usual Hay
Dec 30, 2011 Read2review rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
** For the full review please check out **

This book was very gripping I felt it very hard to put it down. From the start it gets you thinking of many different scenarios. Towards the end I found that my mind had figured out what had happened to Conor but I needed it confirmed.

The fantasy world that was created was very realistic and drew you in. It gave a lot of ideas for where the story was going to go. Like the way that Torgon was behind the medical training. When she kille
Oct 29, 2011 Den rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not like her other books but still well worth a read. I tended to read things into the story which weren't there!.

This book starts off with a psychiatrist James meeting a strange young fellow named Connor, who purrs like a cat and attaches foil wires to himself to keep him safe. James mantra is that kids in his room can do whatever they like and so slowly with no pressure Connor starts to come out of himself and by the end of the book he is having conversations (of a fashion) with people
Rosalie Oliver
Apr 13, 2014 Rosalie Oliver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5, I think this book could be described as being part fantasy, even though all the elements of fantasy apparently occur in dreams, part thriller, part drama. I found it well-written and enjoyable and it is clear the author has drawn on her extensive knowledge of child psychology to create this book. However, I don't know if it's my ignorance showing but there are parts of the book that seem to defy belief for me. For example, would a child of two really be so damaged by what he witnessed that ...more
Oct 05, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly clever, horrifying and quite beautiful book.

This is a very psychological book, you get to follow mainly 2 characters, but lot's of different stories within these.
First there's James the psychatrist, who get's a new patient, 9 year old Connor. He purrs like a cat and makes mechanical noices and won't speak.
Then there is Laura, his mother, who when she was young, fled to a different world in her mind after being raped, she fled to a small society in the woods, with a different system in
May 12, 2012 Carla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Este é o 4º ou 5º livro que li desta autora e o único até agora que não correspondeu às espectativas.
Foi o único em que a autora não faz parte da história, o que sinceramente não estava à espera. A história cansou-me, detestei a personagem de Laura, não gostei de ter de ler toda aquela fantasia criada por ela, quando chegava a parte das histórias criadas pela mãe de Conor só me apeteceu mudar de página (para ler fantasia agarrava num Senhor dos Anéis ou algo parecido).
Toda a personagem de Conor
May 21, 2016 Tuija rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Torey Hayden is one of my all time favourite writers. She is wise and tells the story so that it's almost impossible to put the book down! This one was exceptional in that it wasn't told as her own experience, but as a novel about a therapist called James and his client family of four people. The one who seemed to need help most is a boy of nine; Conor. He has a diagnosis of being autistic.
It soon becomes clear to James that Conor is not autistic, allthough he behaves a lot like it at home. Whe
Mar 13, 2010 Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-library
I read this book 5years ago and perhaps I was a little bit young I couldn't really get into it. But now I am older I have a different perspective to this book.
It is cleverly written, with reality and imagination entwined, and it definitely left the reader guessing right until the end. Even after finishing the book, I would still think about the parallel storylines and find further links that I didn't realise at the time of reading it. The only let down, which initially annoyed me at the beginni
Merja Pohjola
Unfortunately Torey Hayden was a disappointment this time. I found this book mostly boring.... I usually enjoy her stuff, but not this one. Maybe after reading her best work all the others are a bit of a let down. She should stick to true stories, her novels are just not that good. I felt like I was reading The Mists of Avalon when I felt like reading more about the "autistic" (or not...) boy.... argh.

Reread it in Jan, 2015. I guess it didn't make an impact since I didn't realize I had already
Jan 15, 2016 SouthWestZippy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Taken from the back of the book. "Nine-year-Old Conor, haunted by the 'ghost man' is labeled autistic. His mother Laura, an aloof, enigmatic novelist, can't handle him, His rancher father Alan, is fighting desperately to keep him from institutionalization."
Psychiatrist James is called in to help with Conor and over time pulled into Conor's family dynamics. This is a hard book to review, so much is going on in the book I can't pinpoint what I want to talk about. It is just over the top drama and
Paulo Silva
Jul 03, 2013 Paulo Silva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Depois de ter lido 3 livros da autora (que gostei bastante) estava a espera de outro livro dentro do mesmo género, ou seja, relatos baseados em factos reais resultantes da sua experiência profissional com crianças problemáticas, mas este livro é um romance que eu adorei ler do principio ao fim. Um dos melhores livros que li nos últimos tempos. Um daqueles livros em que não conseguimos parar de ler querendo devorar página atrás de página, e com um final brilhante. Para mim, livro recomendado sem ...more
Mar 28, 2011 Filipa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In fact the book is not bad or poorly written. The story is kind of funny and catch our attention.

However, its not the style of Torey. Not at all... Taking into account that I'm used to her, since I read all of her books, this one left so much to be desired. No doubt that I liked much more her books portraying real scenes instead of fictitious ones.

For me, it was too much history, too much fiction, too empty ...

It could earn three stars, but given what Torey accustomed us, I think two stars is o
Jun 25, 2016 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This is the first fiction book I've read from Torey Hayden and it was just as good as her non-fiction stories, the clinical case made believable by my knowledge of her extensive experience through reading her other books. Being fiction, this story had closure which some of her others lack. There was a bit of a magic realism element which I usually wouldn't go in for in this case I think Hayden pulls off the 'is it real or isn't it' factor.
Oh dear Me I thought this book had promise. I love love love all Torey Hayden's other books but this one was such a let down. Maybe authors really should stick to what they know. It started off so well, good characters and what sounded like a good plot. However I think the plot was taken over by one characters fantasy writing which quite frankley added nothing to the story and it would of been possible to read the remaining text without it and the reader still to get the full story.
Jul 22, 2012 Gabrielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gabrielle by: Nigel Byles
Shelves: 2012, fiction, borrowed
I really liked this book. There was not a moment while reading that I got bored or wished the story would hurry up already. It was well paced and the characters were all interesting. Best of all, I had no idea what was coming up, not even an inkling of how the book would end. This is a fairly common problem with many of the books I read, I'm usually able to perceive how the book will end which ruins it slightly for me.
Jenny Hayworth
Jan 02, 2014 Jenny Hayworth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was not sure after reading her other books what I would think of this fiction book but I loved it. Was just as engaged as all her other works. The plot drew me in and I was desperate to know why the boy was mute and the parallel story of the mother who was a famous author and the outlining of her intense fantasy world kept me up until I finished the very last page. The sort of book that once I had finished I was disappointed as I no longer had the intense enjoyment of reading it.
Nina Merry
Oct 18, 2014 Nina Merry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't a book that I would normally read, however it was something that I enjoyed reading and I couldn't put down, saying this I did skim through chapters of the story telling of Torgon as I couldn't quite understand it and it lost my interest. It was a shame that the story ended and I would love to know what happens next to James, Connor and Laura and I'm quite intrigued on who this Lion King boy is as I have a lot of unexplained questions in my head.
Diane Hropic
Apr 15, 2013 Diane Hropic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read for anyone interested in psychology, the metaphysical and mental illness. A day after reading the book I'm still trying to piece together an understanding of Laura and Torgon - not so clear cut considering Morgana's relationship with the Lion King. A family plagued by mental illness, or truly experiencing communication with the metaphysical?
Un roman plutôt agréable à lire... Mais un roman, justement. Torey Hayden ne suscite pas autant d'intérêt que lorsqu'elle relate ses propres expériences. Les personnages sont peu attachants et l'évolution de Conor est reléguée au second plan. Malgré ces quelques défauts, l'univers imaginé par le personnage de Laura reste intéressant à découvrir.
Não fiquei, propriamente, fascinada com a história por a considerar um verdadeiro drama, admito que me sensibilizou para uma realidade que coexiste e que na maioria das vezes ignoramos, por isso, para quem procura um livro com um ponto de vista mais clínico sobre estes temas e, ao mesmo tempo, introspectivo este cumprirá, com toda a certeza, o seu papel.
Apr 11, 2016 Jenni rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What on earth happened with this one of toreys ? i love her books but this one was well weird for sure. Going in and out of a fantasy world drivel, i was gutted that i wasnt going to be presented with her usual good books.S orry but wouldnt recommend to anyone.
Andrea Humphrey
Sep 25, 2009 Andrea Humphrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is refreshing to read about someone who loves and cares for children who have such a bad start in life. Life can be very harsh and for children to endure such a start is so wrong, we all need to be that bit more loving and tollerant towards all children.
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Victoria Lynn Hayden, known as Torey L. Hayden (born May 21, 1951 in Livingston, Montana) is a child psychologist, special education teacher, university lecturer and writer of non-fiction books based on her real-life experiences with teaching and counselling children with special needs.
Subjects covered in her books include autism, Tourette syndrome, sexual abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, and electi
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