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an amazing debut
The Tiger’s Wife is the first novel by Serbian-born American author, Tea Obrecht, and is the winner of the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction. Young doctor, Natalia Stefanovic is on an assignment with her life-long friend Zora to innoculate the children of a remote Balkan village orphanage when she learns of her grandfather’s death. Her grandmother believes he was on his way to meet Natalia, is distraught that he died alone in a town none of them recognises, and that his belongings are missing.
Not worth the cost.
As she tries to come to terms with the loss of a man who loomed large in her life, Natalia is distracted from her medical duties by memories of her grandfather and also by the strange digging activities in a nearby vineyard. Obrecht employs three narrative strands: Natalia relates what happens on her vaccination excursion; her grandfather, a well-respected doctor, tells of his three encounters with a deathless man; and Natalia chronicles the events of a certain winter in World War Two, when the village her grandfather grew up in was visited by a tiger. In each of the narrations, secondary characters are elegantly given backstories so that a collection of short stories is seamlessly woven into the whole. Obrecht’s characters are interesting and authentic and her descriptive prose is wonderfully evocative: “Pigeons, clustered thick enough to be visible from the hill, shuffled like cowled women up and down the street..”
Against a backdrop of seemingly ever-present war, Obrecht explores superstitions and customs, secrets and lies, fears and rituals, history and folklore, myths and mysteries, love and revenge, and of course, death. This moving and thought-provoking novel is an amazing debut. Readers will look forward to more from Obrecht.
As someone who is retired and on limited income I have to chose my reads wisely. I really tried to read this book and kept hoping it would grab my interest. Half way through I had to give it up. Too many tales intertwined and uninteresting. I would not reccommend this book to anyone.
A hard book to read-- I have read hundreds in my lifetime and this one was a complete waste of time--
a confusing maelstrom of events and characters
What was this book trying to say, except string together an unlikely mixture of apparent fact, fable and myth into incredibly long sentences which meander and jump from one thing to another. Do yourself a favour -read something else! The book club I attend, another one in Muswell Hill and many work colleagues feel the same and many did not finish it.
Although a good first novel, I do feel it wasn't necessary to have that many myths/legends or folklore stories to get her point across. I feel with all that that was going on, I got a bit lost and found the history of characters like the 'apocrapher' and the 'bearman' unnecessary and distracting from her main story. However, I would have liked to have read all about them in her next book, as they are worth telling. I feel the author had too many ideas and could have kept some for the future novels.- Slightly 'overworked', a mistake that young painters often make on an artwork.
In conclusion, although well written, I have indigestion from this over stuffed feast of stories and time frames! For me a 'simpler meal' would have sufficed perfectly.
I read this book twice in immediate succession. Not because it was obscure, but because it was multidimensional and I wanted to savor all facets. The story-line alone was compelling and life-like in its detail. And profoundly personal in its omissions. If you are looking for a book that fits comfortably into the usual parameters of neat endings and predictable plots, be prepared for a paradigm shift. If you are willing to be lured into the depths of defining fear, love and meaning through your own inner dimensions - unfasten your seat belt and see where you land.
This novel is a mixture of reality and fantasy, but it's choppy construction and large group of characters make it hard to follow and the ending unclear. The author may be on to something original; it may be interesting to see what she does next.
what? when? who?
While there were some intriguing ideas expressed in this book, it just didn't have enough clarity for me to "get" the author's message(s). The commingling of actual and fictional history and geography really threw me for a loop. I never could get my bearings in either realm. Too much metaphor/parable also left me guessing about what direction the author was trying to get me to follow her in. And the ambiguous "girlfriend"? I suppose it doesn't really matter if it was a lesbian relationship or not, but why the ambiguity? I think this author has something to say, but I don't think she has really said it in this book.