It was Life and Adventures of Jack Engle by Walt Whitman. My most frequent protagonist would have read this. It was written in the year of her birth, 1852. I hadn’t known that Whitman wrote novels. In fact I don't know much about Whitman at all. Must fix that.
Did I, as Greg prophesied, like the book? Well, yes and no. But I learned a lot about both Whitman and myself.
I am so used to being told what the genre and sub-genre I have in my hand before I even open the book. In this case I was halfway through the book before I knew what I was reading. I found that disturbing. Has modern reading made me lazy so that I need to know a lot about a book before I pick it up? Yes, I think it has. The cat has to be not only IN the story, but on the cover before we will buy the book.
It was a struggle of will that kept me with the book until I figured out what was going on, sometime around page 50 or so. Besides, the other book I was reading was upstairs next to my bed.
Would I recommend the book? Yes, if you are a Walt Whitman fan, or you are writing historicals sent in the mid-1800s. Yes if you are looking for details about New York City at that time. Or if you want to know what your great grandparents read. Sorry no cats, but there is a pretty good dog.
No, if you are looking for a consistent well plotted tale with complex characters. Some of the characters have both good and bad aspects, but most either wholly evil or saints. Both the protagonist and the dog are named Jack which can be a bit confusing at times.