MrsF's Reviews > The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
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's review
Feb 23, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: 2012-reads, mythology-fiction

** spoiler alert ** Ho hum. Hmmmm. Umm... It's difficult to give a synopsis of a novel that was so disjointed. I certainly didn't hate it, in fact thoroughly enjoyed certain moments. However my struggle was borne of attempting to follow a narrative that seemed unsure of its own purpose.

Obreht started well with strong characters and an intriguing tale. The taste of mythology added mystique that hinted at depths within the story to come. As I closed the back cover, I was still waiting for such depth to materialize. One minute a tale of mystery, possibly even a crime thriller; the next a nod to !Joseph Campbell and the power of myth to speak through generations. In fact, there was no central story.

The characters retreat into shadows replaced with storytelling; that whilst in and of itself is interesting, bears little significance to the battles of Natalia's modern dilemmas. We are introduced to new characters, past and present, with the suggestion of a great climactic conclusion drawing near. Yet all that happens is Obreht all but forgets about Natalia and Zora, focusing her attention on her grandfathers childhood. Even THIS leads nowhere.

The legend of the tigers wife is drawn out beyond necessity, to the point that I frankly couldn't care less if she was or wasn't - and her final fate was barely given a page of its own. Obreht herself seemed bored of it. I just kept thinking, where's Natalia? Is Zora ok? What the hell happened to her grandfather in that obscure village? What was the deal with the men in the shack-come-bar? I wanna know!!

According to Natalia, the key to understanding her grandfather were the two stories, The Tiger's Wife and The Deathless Man. Uh-huh. Well I may be alone here, but I seem to have missed the boat. Her grandfather's behaviours as a father, husband, doctor and grandfather, seemed very logical and sensical to me. What didn't make sense was how these stories influenced him.

And can we talk about Natalia's mother?? Clearly she had a closer relationship with her grandparents than her mother - why? I love when books display an assumption of intelligence in the reader, requiring some thinking on my part and leaving room for one's own conclusions to be drawn. But glaring absences of background to pivotal people and situations just strikes me as either the author's laziness - or their lack of experience (leading to underdeveloped characters and stories).

I think with some guidance, Obreht could develop into a powerful author. She has a lovely grasp on imagery, and emotion - and clearly draws on her own background for geographic/historical knowledge. Perhaps a better editor could have helped her sculpt a tighter, central narrative and trimmed the amount of concepts she allowed herself to bring in.

Glad I read it, but wouldn't recommend it to others

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Reading Progress

February 23, 2012 – Shelved
February 23, 2012 –
page 31
February 24, 2012 – Started Reading
February 24, 2012 –
page 82
February 24, 2012 –
page 109
February 26, 2012 –
page 196
February 27, 2012 –
page 275
February 29, 2012 – Shelved as: mythology-fiction
February 29, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012-reads
March 1, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Beberouge I'm so glad you felt this way, this is exactly how I felt about the book, except I just couldn't get Natalia either I kept having so much trouble trying to imagine her and just could not conjure her up. Great review feel like you were in my head :)

MrsF Thanks love! I actually just added to the review above cos I wrote it last night and thought I'd deleted it - saw your comment this morning and was SO excited to see the review magically appear!

Let's hope the next one we read's better. Can't wait for you to read Don't Breathe a Word. xx

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