Friday, April 27, 2012

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

I enjoyed the beginning of this book when it was more about Natalia and her grandfather, but by the second half I was flagging. The legends and fables interwoven throughout the narrative just didn't hold my attention as much as Natlia's present story. I can handle small amounts of fantasy - or is it 'magical realism?'- I just don't think I appreciate it enough to read half a book's worth. The author's writing is lovely, though. I wanted to linger over the Natalia-as-doctor chapters, and even the deathless man chapters, and then speed through all that tiger and bear backstory just to get back to the present story. I don't know . . . I think maybe I'm just the wrong reader for a book like this.

In Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather's recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years of "the deathless man." But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her - the legend of the tiger's wife. (back cover)

Then he read The Jungle Book, a gift from the apothecary himself. For weeks, my grandfather sat in the long-stemmed grass and pored over the brown volume with its soft pages. He read about the panther Bagheera, Baloo the bear, the old wolf Akela. Inside the cover was the picture of a boy, thin and upright, thrusting a stick of flame into the face of an enormous square-headed cat. pg105

He sat up, pushed his chair away from the table and rubbed his knees. "When men die, they die in fear," he said. "They take everything they need from you, and as a doctor it is your job to give it, to comfort them, to hold their hand. But children die how they have been living - in hope. They don't know what's happening, so they expect nothing, they don't ask you to hold their hand - but you end up needing them to hold yours. With children, you're on your own. Do you understand? pg154


5 comments:

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This book took my a long time to finish. For the most part, I just couldn't engage in a real meaningful way, even though the writing was good.

Beth said...

This is how much I trust you and your taste in books - this one is going in my "Maybe" TBR pile. Which means it will probably never be read...

Trish said...

Diane - It was strange how disconnected I felt. I wanted to like it but it just never really clicked for me.

Beth - The 'maybe' pile is a funny thing, isn't it? It's made up of books that I'm sure are very good . . . for someone else.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I bought this when it won the Orange Prize but never read it as I'm not a massive fan of magical realism....I'm not sure if it will be a book for me.

Nikki-ann said...

Not my kind of book, but as you say maybe somebody else would enjoy it :)