Synopsis (from amazon)
Natalia is on a quest: to discover the truth about her beloved grandfather. He has died far from home, in circumstances shrouded in mystery.
Recalling stories her grandfather told her as a child, Natalia suspects he may have died trying to unravel two mysteries. One was the fate of a tiger which escaped during German bombing raids in 1941; the other a man who claimed to be immortal. But, as Natalia learns, there are no simple truths or easy answers in this landscape echoing with myths but still scarred by war.
I read the first chapter of this book back in 2011 when it was in the first Waterstone’s Eleven. It went on my wishlist then, but it’s was only towards the end of last year that I actually read it.
There are four stories in this novel. That of Natalia as a child and her relationship with her Grandfather. The story of Natalia now. And the two stranger stories, those of the tiger’s wife, and the deathless man. All the stories are meant to be true, the stranger stories being stories which Natalia’s grandfather told her about his life.
The stranger stories are what make the book really. They have an almost fairytale like quality. I especially liked the tale of the deathless man because it had elements which seemed more real than that of the tiger’s wife, but they were contrasted in the idea of this man who couldn’t die. The idea of a woman falling in love with a tiger was less supernatural I suppose, it’s more how much it was believed I think that was unusual.
I did enjoy the writing in this book, however I’d find I got interested in one story only for it to stop and give way to one of the others, and then I’d stop reading because I didn’t want to read that other story. Even though I liked each story on it’s own I wasn’t ready to leave one for another, and that meant it took me a surprisingly long time to read for such a short book.
(Isn’t the new cover awesome?)
Word by Word
Lit and Life
Nose in a Book
Did I miss your review? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here
The Waterstone’s 11 are a list of books by new authors to watch which will be released in the next year. You can read the first chapter of each book on the Waterstone’s website.
This is the second of my mini-reviews. You can find my review of When God was a Rabbit here.
The Tiger’s Wife- Tea Obreht
‘Having sifted through everything I have heard about the tiger and his wife, I can tell you that this much is fact: in April of 1941, without declaration or warning, the German bombs started falling over the city and did not stop for three days. The tiger did not know that they were bombs…’ A tiger escapes from the local zoo, padding through the ruined streets and onwards, to a ridge above the Balkan village of Galina. His nocturnal visits hold the villagers in a terrified thrall. But for one boy, the tiger is a thing of magic – Shere Khan awoken from the pages of The Jungle Book. Natalia is the granddaughter of that boy. Now a doctor, she is visiting orphanages after another war has devastated the Balkans. On this journey, she receives word of her beloved grandfather’s death, far from their home, in circumstances shrouded in mystery. From fragments of stories her grandfather told her as a child, Natalia realises he may have died searching for ‘the deathless man’, a vagabond who was said to be immortal. Struggling to understand why a man of science would undertake such a quest, she stumbles upon a clue that will lead her to a tattered copy of The Jungle Book, and then to the extraordinary story of the tiger’s wife.
Thoughts from Synopsis
I’m immediately put in mind of The Life of Pi, but it does sound ever so slightly more realistic! I loved The Life of Pi so if it is similar that would certainly not be a bad thing!
Thoughts from first chapter
Definitely not The Life of Pi but that is not a bad thing! Some wonderful descriptions, some quite horrible too. I love the way you see the view of the humans and of the tiger. It seems that The Tiger’s Wife may be a bit of a war story in a way- but certainly of the type that I have never encountered before. It does not read as easily as what I read of When God was a Rabbit but is much more descriptive and you get much more feeling from it. I can imagine it could become quite gripping and if the standard of writing stays as it is it could become quite popular with the awards. Certainly one to look out for