Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Tiger's Wife

I could also call this post Review: Book that took me almost four months to finish. It wasn't that the book was bad or anything like that, for some reason I just would put it down and pick up another. But in the end, maybe a part of me foresaw that I would not want to face the day I would have to put it down for good.

I had been browsing the catalog at work and I have no idea what brought me to this book, but I read the plot and the reviews and I was really intrigued. We had a few copies and I checked one out and started to read. For some reason I found this book to be a somewhat difficult read; I had to really concentrate on what was going on. There are various stories intertwined with the main story and with one another. In a way, this book reminded me so much of another book I just read, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, because of the small stories that connect so well and because of the legends interwoven in both.

At the beginning of the book, Natalia is on her way to provide vaccinations for orphans with her friend Zora, both are doctors. Natalia receives a call from her grandmother, who lets her know that her grandfather has died. Not only that, but he has died in Zdrevkov, in some isolated town all alone. Her grandmother tells her that he had said he was going to find Natalia to help with the inoculations, but Natalia knows that that is not true. So why was her grandfather there in Zdrevkov? What was he looking for?

The story weaves together the present, flashbacks of Natalia's life with her grandfather, and stories of her grandfather's childhood and of the people who were in his life as well as legends. Death is a major theme in the book, and one particular character who was really one of the most interesting parts of the book was the deathless man, cursed to remain alive, to never know death. There are so many beautiful parts in this book, and also so many heartbreaking ones. I began to think, when I came to the last 100 pages, that I might be disappointed in the end, and while I was slightly at first, I realized that the ending was the best ending possible. What is funny about this book is that, even though you find out in the summary and in the first few pages that Natalia's grandfather has died, your sadness about his death grows and grows as the book goes on, as you get to know him better. My heart feels a sadness, it is partly a longing to meet some of the characters in the book. I do recommend this book, if only for the wise advice Natalia's grandfather gives, for his wise actions and good heart.

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