Sunday, June 3, 2012

Review: The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife is an exquisite tale unfurled by a master storyteller.

So, why didn't I like it?

Well, that's not completely accurate: I like many of the characters and many of the stories were fascinating. I just did not understand why the novel was written.

Natalie, a young doctor in a war-ravaged Eastern European country, is on her way to an orphanage to vaccinate its occupants when she discovers her physician-grandfather, a cancer patient, has died in a town near the orphanage. How did he die? Why was he in that town?

Natalia tells her tale, and her grandfather's tale, and their tale together. She also tells the tale of the war-torn country in which she lives. The tales are interesting, compelling — but do not cohere into a particular story. I enjoyed reading it, right up to the end, when I came to the last page and thought, "Why did I read this?"

I don't mind a novel where there is no clear ending. I don't mind when the story continues after the final page. However, I want resolution to the tale. When I pick up a book, I want a reason to read it. I don't want lovely words arranged in a pleasing way, but with no purpose.

That is what Tea Obreht gave me: a novel with no raison d'etre.

Did you read it? Do you agree? Or just how wrong do you think I am?

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