Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

This month's book club selection is The Tiger's Wife  by Tea Obreht.  Set in a Balkan country after many years of war, a young woman, Natalia, attempts to discover the truth behind the stories her grandfather has told her all her life.  Central to these stories is her grandfather's treasured copy of The Jungle Book.  Like the layers of an onion, this story is really one story inside another inside another.  Each character has a past and Obreht explores them thoroughly.  There is Natalia's story, her grandfather's story, and then there are the tales of The Tiger's Wife and of the Deathless Man.  Each of these have multiple dimensions that add depth and texture.  Natalia, along with the reader, is on a mission to discover if these old legends she has heard all her life are just folklore or if they are really true. 
To be honest, I don't actually know a lot about the Balkan States or the many wars that have afflicted the area over the last century.  War is in the background through much of this book, but the details of the wars are not the focus.  Myth, superstition and legend are all a major player in this book, almost as if they are another character.  The Tiger's Wife has been critically recognized and was named one of the ten best books of 2011 by the New York Times along with many other literary honors.   I will say that while it is a good book and I liked it, I didn't love it.  It captured my attention and I read it in only four days, but it is unlikely I would feel the need to read it again. 
Have you read The Tiger's Wife ?  What did you think? 

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