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The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

The Tiger's Wife is Tea Obreht's debut novel; Obreht has made some prestigious young writers to watch lists (she's only 25), and thus, her debut novel was highly anticipated by many and has received rave reviews.  The novel is well written, but I must admit that I felt like the book was building up to an ending that never came.  While there aren't any fairy tale overtones to the story, parts of it are heavily drawn from the Godfather Death fairy tale.

A doctor in an unnamed Balkan country still healing from a harrowing and brutal years long civil war that literally split the country in two, Natalia is on her way to inoculate the children of a remote and rural orphanage when she receives word that her beloved grandfather has died at a remote clinic nearby.  What follows is Natalia's attempt to make sense of both her grandfather's life and his death, specifically why he died where he died.  Natalia's grandfather's life and death are inexplicably tied to several encounters he had over the years with a mysterious man who seems to never age and who claims to be deathless.  An encounter early in his life with a woman his village dubbed the tiger's wife and an escaped tiger feared by the village was also a thread that ran through her grandfather's entire life and all the stories he ever told.

The stories of Natalia's grandfather and the tiger's wife and the deathless man as well as the stories of the war years and a mysterious, illness riddled family determined to dig up an entire vineyard in a quest to find both the source and the cure of their illness expertly draw the reader in to this novel.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


bookspersonally said…
Very interesting review, makes me curious whether the high expectations for this book worked against it in the end.

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