Welcome Home, Bernard Socks is the sequel to The Story of Fester Cat. It is a continuation of Paul and Jeremy’s life after Fester’s passing, and the introduction of Bernard Socks to the household, and as such, Fester and Socks must be read in order.
Two months after Fester’s death, Paul has enough of the emptiness and begins checking out rescue sites, just looking, mind you, not really interested in a new cat, really. But Jeremy is depressed and it becomes apparent that the boys need a new cat. Paul has even found a cat at a local shelter, Sox.
Paul and Jeremy visit Sox, but can’t bring themselves to decide on adoption, and after multiple visits, decide that they are ready to welcome a new cat into their lives. The whole time, a ghostly Fester watches and provides his opinion and observations on the the adoption, along with his expertise to the newly named Bernard Socks.
Socks and the guys adjust well to the new arrangement and things are going well, except that the year that began with Fester’s illness and passing seems determined to test Paul and Jeremy. A simple roofing repair to the house next door leads to a hole in the bathroom ceiling, which turns into a toxic disaster, followed by a lump on Socks’ chest that terrifies the guys, bringing back memories of Fester’s last days.
Because The Story of Fester Cat was such an emotional book, having me in tears more than once, I had high hopes for the sequel. What I found was that the story had an odd flow, being narrated by Fester, as in the first book, and as a result, I didn’t feel the same connection to Socks that was so prominent in Fester Cat.
The focus of the story was really about Paul and Jeremy’s relationship, how Fester’s death affected them as individuals and a couple, and how time allowed them to consider another cat. It also showed how Socks’ presence in their lives had not only a positive short-term impact, but also helped when their home, and lives, were falling apart.
In this respect, the heavy emotion was between Paul and Jeremy, how the depression and sorrow enveloped them, and how the stress of the damage to their home threatened to tear them apart with one doozie of a fight. Getting to know the guys in depth was interesting, but it was not what I was expecting, either based on the previous book, or the title. I was totally expecting Socks to be front-and-center, and he was more comic relief, while Fester acted as a kind of puppet master, overseeing and affecting a change to all of the lives on Chestnut Avenue.
At one point was that there was a flashback of sorts narrated by Fester that set up for the second half of the year, but it felt disjointed and a bit rambling. I also found the section dealing with the feline midsummer’s celebration to be odd, and did not feel like it advanced the plot significantly.
Overall, I did not feel the connection to Socks that I did to Fester when that was what I was expecting, but I did like how Magrs focussed more attention on Paul and Jeremy. Here’s the thing, I was happy, with how Fester Cat ended. Well not “happy” happy, considering how emotionally wrecked I was, but happy, and would have remained so with or without having read Welcome Home, Bernard Socks. The story left me wanting, which makes me hesitant about recommending it to you.