Hazel Osmond's Reviews > The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
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Oct 20, 11

Read in October, 2011

I was swept up and into this book for about three-quarters of the journey - drawn in by the wit and wisdom of the writing, the magic running through the brutal and brutalising events that unfolded... it was in many respects like listening to a fairy story. Loved the way that you didn't know the narrator was a woman till a few pages in, loved the characterisation of the grandfather and the deft touches that told you how people felt about each other (her grandfather sitting eating his toasted sunflower seeds while holding his wife's wrist reveals all you need to know about their love)... but I felt that somewhere after the three quarter mark, it became overburdened by the 'cleverness' of the imagery and the back stories to the expense of a cohesive narrative. It was almost as if each character had to be given some weird history - sister with epilepsy, check, apothecary who saves a blind man, check... and by this point it felt contrived.

I absolutely loved the idea of the deathless man and the tiger's wife, but how she fitted in to the story... was beyond me... and the writer herself suggests it's not about the tiger's wife.. that somehow it lies between these two elements.

Another thing that stopped this being a great book, in my mind, was the complete lack of emotion... while the narrator seemed very real, beautifully depicted, I felt no emotional connection with her at all and although that may be another point the author was trying to make... she is perhaps the rational side of the world, finding explanations and cures for things by reasononing, it was a barrier to actually loving this book. I felt unmoved by the book as a whole, although some passages and even chapters (usually involving the grandfather or tiger's wife) were moving...

All this aside, though, for a first novel... what an achievement.

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