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Books & Company says goodbye to its feline companion, Miss Lily

Photo: Ashliegh Gehl

Miss Lily rubbed against the calves of literary greats the way no book enthusiast would dare.

The plump ginger cat who lived at Books & Company, an independent bookstore in Picton, Ontario, often interrupted an author’s reading with the hum of her purr and tinkle of her bells.

Last spring, she accompanied memoirists Iain Reid, Merilyn Simonds, and Wayne Grady on stage, and swirled at the feet of Governor General’s Literary Award winner Charles Foran during a Prince Edward County Authors Festival master class.

But on Nov. 23, when Margaret Atwood was in the store for an Al Purdy A-Frame Trust fundraiser, Miss Lily was too ill to make an appearance. She died that evening of diabetes, at nearly 12 years of age.

Alexandra Bake, owner of Books & Company, says Lily will be missed by visiting authors who would often joke about the bookstore being “upstaged by the cat.”

In October, Lily won the affection of Scottish crime writer Stuart MacBride during his four-week tour of Canada.

“The first time I met Miss Lily she was having a kip underneath the radiator by the stairs in the bookshop – a large, ginger, stripy cat doing her best to ignore all the people trooping past on their way up to the reading,” says MacBride. “She looked more like a marmalade cushion than a scourge of mice, rats, and the occasional bird.”

Instead of signing a copy of his book to Bake, he signed it to the cat. “It was obvious to me that Miss Lily was the one in charge of the bookshop,” says MacBride. “One should always keep the boss happy.”

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