Thursday, March 10, 2011

THE TIGER'S WIFE by Tea Obrecht

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

While on a humanitarian mission,  Dr. Natalia Stefanovi's crosses the border in search of answers about her grandfather's sudden death.  As she delves into his life, she recalls stories her grandfather told her about his childhood.  One of the stories was about the Tiger's Wife, a deaf-mute woman who seemingly befriended a lose tiger in his village.  Her grandfather also often spoke of his encounters with the deathless man named Gavran Gaile.  He encountered the deathless man several times throughout his life and Gavran had a profound effect on him.  Natalia begins to believe that there is a connection between her grandfather's stories about the Tiger's Wife and the deathless man and her grandfather's death.  While Natalia ponders these questions, she works to provide medical care some orphans left parentless by the ongoing war while dealing with a family of superstitious gypsies looking for the buried body of a family member.

Obreht is an excellent writer and storyteller. She easily draws the reader in and her descriptions of war and its effects on these communities are very well done. I loved the stories of the Tiger's Wife and deathless man and only wish there had been more.   In the end, I felt more confused than ever about the truth behind her grandfather's death and what really happened with the Tiger's Wife and with Gavran Gaile. I felt I was only just getting into the story when it ended.  Obreht does a really wonderful job of capturing moments in time and place and her characters are compelling and interesting.

BOTTOM LINE:  RECOMMENDED. This is a very difficult book to describe and review because of its complexity.  It is one of those books where you anxiously wait for someone else to read it to see if they understood what happened better than you did. I'm not really sure I understood this book but I enjoyed the ride!


Mystica said...

Thanks for an honest review. Have seen it as being a sure shortlist for the Orange prize?

Amy said...

Mystica--You are correct. It is on the long list for the UK Orange Prize for Fiction: