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“In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.”
First, this book was a really good way of how to get me out of a reading dry spell. I had a period of not wanting to read anything because the book I tried to read before it was terrible. I forced myself to read the next one in my list, and The Tiger’s Wife was it. I’m glad I had this one next because it was really, really good.
This book has won a ton of awards an was named a bestseller for good reasons. Especially since the author wrote it when she was rather young, which is also excellent.
So like the description states, the book is mainly about a woman who is very attached to her grandfather, and searches endlessly for answers about what happened to him when he leaves out of country to die and said he was going to see her, but didn’t.
From the getgo, it’s known that her grandfather always carries a copy of The Jungle Book, and has a strong affinity for tigers. This is an ongoing theme throughout the book if you couldn’t tell via the title. But with this, comes the fact that the entirety of the book is one large explanation of life and death.
Two legends that he tells his granddaughter about, is about The Deathless Man, a man who pissed off his uncle, who happens to be Death, and so is bound to be immortal for all eternity to go about and help souls make it to their afterlife. A sidetone about this however, is that he can feel pain, and many have tried to kill him over the years. The second legend, is about The Tiger’s Wife. A young woman [heavily hinted at underage] who is both deaf and mute, pregnant mostly against her consent, abused, and also who charms the graces of a wild tiger that somewhat protects her in a village rooted in constant suspicion in a time of war. You eventually learn, however, that these are more than just legends.
The story switches back and forth between the viewpoint of the grandfather, and the granddaughter. It also switches back and forth between past and present. While the author does a good job at making it pretty clear when each person is talking, it takes a paragraph or so realize who is talking since it isn’t always directly stated.
Overall, the book is pretty fantastic. The girl’s love and devastation for her grandfather feels super genuine. The legends in the book and the research done for the Balkan Wars is obvious, as she did an amazing job describing those settings.
My only real complaint is that she’s giving explanations and character introductions very late into the book, when you really just want the climax to happen to find out what’s going on with the already-existent characters you’ve been wondering about. The only real good outcome of this, is that these late-game characters are all in the story for a certain reason. They’re all woven together to explain the grandfather’s life and the answers his granddaughter is looking for.
I give The Tiger’s Wife 5/5 Tiger Stripes
“Death, winged and silent, was already in the house with him. It hovered in the spaces between people and things, between his bed and the lamp, between his room and his sister’s – always there, driving between rooms, especially when his mind was temporarily elsewhere, especially when he was asleep.”