Book Review: The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

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tiger's wifeThe Tiger’s Wife

Written by Téa Obreht
Published by Random House on March 8, 2011 
Genre/Topics: Adult Fiction, Magical Realism
338 pages 

Word Review: ‘I-Want-My-Time-Back-To-Read-Something-Else’

The Tiger’s Wife describes a relationship between grandfather and granddaughter through stories. Natalia is a young doctor in a Balkan country who provides a service at an orphanage. While away, she learns that her grandfather died yet nobody knows the circumstances of his death. Natalia is on a mission to learn more about her grandfather and bring back his body for the funeral. The story moves back and forth between her grandfather’s stories that contain a fantasy element and Natalia’s perspective in the present. Natalia and her grandfather share secrets and he takes her on special visits to the city zoo. He has a great love for the tigers and he always carries The Jungle Book with him. Natalia begins to understand her grandfather through these stories.

It sounds like a great book in this brief summary, but I disliked the book for many reasons. The book was incredibly slow and almost seemed as though it never reached a climax. I was waiting for the book to grab me, but I felt that nothing really happened. There were too many characters that didn’t seem to connect. Once I somewhat understood one of the grandfather’s tales then it twisted into a tangent to discuss another character. Yes, additional characters add story elements, but in this case I felt that some of the characters were added for no reason. I’ve read many books with different perspectives and time periods, but The Tiger’s Wife‘s transitions were not smooth and Natalia’s perspective seemed to be sprinkled inside the grandfather’s stories making it sometimes unclear about what occurred in the grandfather’s tale. As much as I disliked The Tiger’s Wife, the writing itself was good. I’m surprised that this is Téa Obreht’s first book. Finally, after reading this book, I’m not sure who’s the ‘tiger’s wife’ and the importance with the grandfather. If you’ve read The Tiger’s Wife I’d love your feedback.

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