1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Better as short stories?,
This review is from: The Tiger's Wife (Kindle Edition)
This was one of those books I quite enjoyed while actually reading it, but once I put it down I wasn't compelled to pick it up again. It's stylistically well written and covers some interesting recent history (the Balkan war). But I'd struggle to provide a synopsis, as I didn't feel there was much of a central plot driving things forward - it read more like a collection of short stories.
The book jumps back and forth between the present day (where the narrator, Natalia, is a doctor vaccinating children in an orphanage) and her grandfather's past. I found the modern parts the least engaging - not a lot happens and we don't learn much about the characters. These sections really just serve to link to the story of Natalia's grandfather, who recently died in a nearby village and whose belongings she needs to track down and send home.
When we go back to the grandfather's stories, things get more interesting. The action moves to a small Balkan village, which is being haunted by a tiger that escaped from the city zoo in a World War II bombing. The remote setting and extensive magical realism (a tiger's wife, a bear man, a deathless man...) make these sections read like old folktales. It's enjoyable, but just as you get caught up in the story you're pulled back into the present day, or sideways into the lengthy backstory of one of the villagers.
Overall, I felt the central 'tiger's wife' story was interesting and well told, but I wanted more of it. Fewer digressions, and tighter links between chapters, would have helped to hold my attention.