Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles
This book is more literary, not a traditional romance novel. Samuel DeJuan is a professor of German literature at a Spanish university. As the story begins, it is New Year’s Eve, and he’s alone in his apartment with a miniature bottle of champagne, doing a solitary toast. It’s a bleak and lonesome scene, and emblematic of how empty and loveless his life is. Everything is closed for about a week for the holidays, and Samuel is at loose ends. He hears a strange noise in the hallway, opens the door, and a cat is out there and won’t leave. Not being a particular fan of cats, Samuel doesn’t want it to come into his place, but he doesn’t want it to starve either. So he gets a saucer of milk, but when he brings it to the door, the cat is gone. He leaves the milk out there just in case. The cat soon comes back, and insists on staying in Samuel’s apartment. He grudgingly lets the cat stay, and names him Mishima. He wants to be responsible about cat ownership, so he calls a vet to inquire about shots, and finds one who makes housecalls! She’s a brusque, attractive woman named Meritxell. Samuel is intrigued by her, and happy that Mishima has hidden somewhere in the apartment so no shots today, giving him another chance to talk to the grouchy but pretty vet. After she leaves, Mishima appears and runs directly to the apartment upstairs. He goes right in, so Samuel follows, assuming this his home. Titus, the eccentric old man who lives there, says the cat isn’t his but he doesn’t mind it visiting. Samuel and Titus strike up a conversation, and though Samuel is feeling sick, he agrees to go to a hobby shop and get a replacement piece of track for Titus’s toy train. As he passes a woman in a crosswalk and looks into her eyes, he is instantly transported back to his childhood, and a girl named Gabrielle who hid under some stairs with him during a game of hide and seek. He fell in love with her back then, and is stunned to see her again, but can’t say anything as now they are just strangers passing on the street. He looks back after she’s passed, and is elated to see that she’s still looking at him and smiling. The rest of the book is a jumble of feelings and coincidences among Samuel, Titus, Meritxell, Gabrielle, and a possibly delusional disgraced astronomer named Valdemar. It’s a meditation on love and how to be open to whatever life has to offer, and the cat started the whole delightful chain of events!