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Set in an unnamed, mysterious Balkan country, The Tiger’s Wife tells the story of a special bond between Natalia Stefanovic and her recently deceased grandfather. Natalia is a physician charged with inoculating orphaned children vulnerable to disease in the war-torn countryside. She grew up very close to her grandfather, also a physician, and his sudden death in a village he had no known ties to sends her on a pilgrimage to understand the circumstances of his passing. Along the way, she remembers and discovers details of her grandfather’s past, including two stories he told her when she was a child one of the deathless man, and another of an escaped tiger cared for by a deaf-mute girl. Obreht weaves Natalia’s story with the two fables seamlessly. It is a delicate balance of realism/science vs. myth/superstition Duerden and Sachs guide the listener through the intricate structure with their affecting narration.
The Tiger’s Wife features a cast of dynamic, unforgettable characters, some with even supernatural qualities. Duerden and Sachs help smooth the departures from reality but also thrive in those fantastical moments (especially Sachs, in his delivery of the fables told by the grandfather). In the same vein, Duerden’s characterization of Natalia as a pragmatic physician unalarmed by the horrors of war and sickness is equally informed. However, Natalia is passionate about one thing understanding her grandfather’s life and death. The Tiger’s Wife is an enchanting story that will stay with you long after you finish listening.
In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend, Zóra, begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.
But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.
Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Michele Kellett on 09-28-11
Not entirely hype
This book and its author have been promoted tirelessly by publisher and critics alike. Since my own family is Slovenian, I caved and downloaded it. I enjoyed it very much, but look forward to the author's more mature works. Beautifully written and narrated, it takes a while to register that the characters and the story are not quite filled out -- the secrets, the entwined folktale/history do not quite pay off. But could anyone write a book this ambitious at 25? Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) the Balkans will yield decades of material for this talented writer.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By Howard on 05-02-11
Left me unfulfilled!
This novel wraps several stories within stories, all which focus on the narrator's recently deceased Grandfather. These stories are all compelling each in their own right. They just don't seem to have conclusions worthy of the beauty and complexity of the tale.
The premise of this novel is wonderful. The Author does a rewarding job weaving these stories together in an interesting and compelling style. That is, until we get to the conclusion. I felt the last chapter and the final minutes were rushed, perhaps finished to meet some deadline. The conclusion left me feeling unfulfilled, It is a shame such an elegant work of fiction was plucked from the vine just before it was completely ripe. It's a tasty experience, but falls just a few millimeters short of reaching it's full potential.
Another point of contention is that the author sometimes gets too devoted to painting a landscape or setting the scene for us. Occasionally, I found myself wishing she would just get on with the story. I will concede, though, she is very artful with these overdeveloped descriptions. In true Audible form, the Narrators are exquisite.
I don't regret listening to "The Tiger's Wife" I just feel slightly unfulfilled by the conclusion.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful