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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Tiny Wife is a thing of beauty, 80 pages of carefully wrought words enhanced by sharp, silhouette illustrations. Not a single word is wasted in this contemporary fable with echoes of Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm and even a little pinch of Italo Calvino.

Our story opens in contemporary Toronto where a thief carries out a bank robbery with a difference - he asks each customer for the object which is of most sentimental value to them. It transpires that they have also handed over part of their soul and each victim experiences rather unpleasant side-effects. The narrator's wife, Stacey, starts shrinking with the worry that she will disappear forever, one woman's husband turns into a snowman, a lion tattoo on a woman's ankle comes to life, another woman turns into candy.

Somehow, these characters who seem to have stepped straight out of a travelling sideshow or Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected, retain a whimsical, magical air which lifts them out of the truly macabre. Each reader will take something different from this box of delights, even a moral lesson not to take others for granted if you wish to be educated! A quirky, idiosyncratic read for those who like a little touch of magic in their everyday lives.
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on 13 February 2012
I read this tiny book yesterday; in fact The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman is so tiny that I read it all during a session on the exercise bike at the gym. And it was so enigmatic that I read it a second time when I was pedaling again today. Although the book opens with a real situation - an armed man (in a purple hat) walks into a bank, fires into the ceiling and tells everyone to lie on the floor - before long it's apparent that if Kaufman was an artist he would be Salvador Dali rather than Rembrandt; the book becomes a series of fables after each hostage hands the robber the most precious item they have with them and subsequently weird and sometimes wonderful things happen to them. The fate of Stacey, the wife of the title who starts to shrink, is the central theme of the book but half a dozen or more small parables are cleverly interwoven into it - the author has crammed a great deal into eighteen short chapters. The book could be open to several interpretations and I'm sure that this was the author's intention but I was left (quite appropriately on the eve of Valentine's day) with an overriding message of the importance of love. This is a book that you'll either love or hate and you may take some time to decide which but, after the second reading, I'm in the love camp.

Please see my profile for my interpretation of star ratings.
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on 23 August 2013
I thought this book was about a small woman and big husband but it wasn't. It was a bit magical in a weird sort of way.
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on 28 April 2017
Lovely book!
Really surreal, I loved it.
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on 7 November 2011
"The robbery was not without consequences. The consequences were the point of the robbery."

When a man in a purple hat walks into the bank with a loaded gun, it's not money he's after but an item of sentimental value from each victim. In the days following this odd robbery, weird things start happening. A tattoo comes alive, a woman discovers she's made of candy and our narrator's wife starts slowly shrinking.

The Tiny Wife is a tiny book, really more of a novella but it's a wonderful, surreal little fable. It manages to be both whimsical and macabre at the same time with an underlying message about taking your life for granted. Not only that, but it's illustrated too, in a shadow puppet style.
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During a bank robbery the thief asks those present to hand over their most precious possession, and in return he takes a portion of their soul. In the pages that follow those involved find their lives take a bizarre turn: a woman finds her husband has become a snowman; a baby defecates money; a tattoo of a lion comes to life and pursues its owner; and the "tiny wife" of the title is a woman who starts to shrink, gradually at first, then in bigger steps. Will she eventually disappear?

This wonderful book is undeniably short - 88 pages in a small, "Ladybird" book-sized hardback with simple but effective line drawings - and could easily be read in an hour or so, but you'll want to savour the brilliantly surreal story. Filled with moments of hilarity and incredible sadness this tiny book is an absolute gem, and for me is up there with Kaufman's classic debut "All My Friends Are Superheroes". Granted, the whole shrinking idea has been done before in the likes of "The Incredible Shrinking Man" and a book I remember as a child ("The Vanishment of Thomas Tull" - would love to read that one again!) but the bizarre plot in this book is entirely unique, as is Kaufman's priceless sense of humour and the emotion he wrings from such a short tale.

My favourite book of 2011 so far, and unreservedly recommended.
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on 17 July 2013
I think this novella is one of the most quirky things I’ve read in a long time. It’s naturally a quick read, it’s 80 pages long, but the author fits so much story into them that I found myself thinking about it long after I’d finished reading. I’m still not entirely sure I’ve absorbed it all, I think this is going to be one of those books that is a real pleasure to return to and read again and find a whole new layer each time.

The book is narrated by Stacey’s husband, he begins by telling the story of the robbery that sets off the story. He wasn’t there, he’s very clear on this, he’s simply repeating the story as he’s heard it. The robbery in itself is pretty strange – the idea of stealing items that have sentimental rather than material value makes for an interesting robbery indeed.

The ways the characters were affected after the robbery are all very imaginative, after the first couple are described I found myself wondering what would come next. Some of the end results made me feel really sad.

I think this book is probably going to be one that polarises opinions. I can see how some people will absolutely love it and how it’ll leave other people cold. I can’t say that at the moment I fall entire either camp, I liked it but didn’t love it, but I think over time and with more thinking I’ll end up in the love camp.
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on 5 August 2013
Subtle and imaginative, this short book is a magical tale of how we are each responsible for our own pain and suffering. Thirteen bank customers get an item of sentimental value stolen by a bizarre and rather likeable thief. He sets them a deadline to recover that stolen piece of their souls ... or else they'll die.

The main character is the narrator's wife, who starts to shrink and shrink. We also find out what happens to the other 12 in the bank and, in doing so, we're gently taught that it's only when we find the courage to face our deepest fears behind the illusions of our lives that we can find happiness.

Approachable, entertaining and very funny, this is a terrific book to read.
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on 16 November 2013
A robber holds up Branch 117 of the British Bank of North America in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. There were 13 people inside when the thief entered. The thief wore a flamboyant purple hat and brandished a handgun.

"I demand only one thing from each of you and it is this: the item currently in your possession which holds the most sentimental value."

Each of the 13 handed over their most significant, memory-laden, sentimental object; watches, diamond earrings, a calculator, photographs, a dog-eared copy of The Stranger, a paystub, an ornate door key and so on. When he'd collected an item from everyone in the room, the thief declared:

"It has come to my attention that the vast majoirty of you, if you even believe you have a soul, believe it sits inside you like a brick of gold.

But I'm here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Your soul is a living, breathing, organic thing. No different than your heart or your legs. And just like your heart keeps your blood oxygenated and your legs keep you moving around, your soul gives you the ability to do amazing, beautiful things. But it is a strange machine, needing to be rejuvenated. Normally, this happens simply by the doing of these things, like a car battery recharging by driving.

When I leave here, I will be taking 51 percent of your souls with me. This will have strange and bizarre consequences in your lives. But more importantly, and I mean this quite literally, learn how to grow them back, or you will die."

After the robbery strange things start to happen to the victims. A lion tattoo leaps off the owner's leg and proceeds to chase her across the city, another's husband turns into a snowman, yet another wakes up to find herself made of candy and a little baby begins to fill its nappy with cash. The wife referred to in the title wakes each morning to discover she is shrinking by ever-increasing increments. If she doesn't figure out a way to repair her soul she will completely disappear before the month is through.

Part modern fairy tale, part fantasy, I thoroughly enjoyed this little fable and lost myself in the quirky tales of how the different characters were affected by the robbery. It is immensely creative, imaginative, charming and endearing. It is most definitely about the things we value most, the fears that can stop us from achieving our goals and the path of relationships over time; of souls diminished and love replenished.

The Tiny Wife is a pure gem of a story. It is heart-wrenchingly, soul-clenchingly good; so much so that I immediately purchased all of Andrew Kaufman's books.
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on 7 January 2013
The Tiny Wife begins in a dramatic fashion as a thief in a purple hat bursts into a busy Toronto bank brandishing a loaded gun. But it soon becomes apparent that this is no ordinary stick-up. The stranger demands that each of the bank's customers gives him the object in their possession that holds the most sentimental value. Confused, they comply with his demands and part with the trinkets that they hold dear; a cheap watch, a well-used calculator. But along with these knick-knacks each victim loses a part of their own soul, which triggers all manner of bizarre and surreal events across the city.

The consequences of this singular encounter affect the victims in a multitude of different ways and I am loath to give too much away as after all, the book is only 88 pages long. Suffice it to say some find their lives are changed for the better, such as the man who finds that his little baby begins to fill its nappy with cash. But others, like Stacey Hinterland, are thrown into a world of uncertainty. Stacey discovers that she is shrinking, imperceptibly at first, and later at an alarming rate. Her relationship with her husband becomes more strained than ever and her toddler son threatens to engulf her. How is she to find her soul again before she disappears for good?

Part modern fairy tale, part magical realism, I enjoyed this little fable and lost myself in the quirky tales of how the different characters were affected by the robbery. It is immensely imaginative and thoroughly charming. However as I came to the end I had a niggling feeling that something of the moral of the story had passed me by. Who is this flamboyant stranger in the purple hat, and what are his motives? They say good things come in small packages, so feel free to call me a greedy so and so if you like, but I was left wanting just a few pages more. Still, the Tiny Wife definitely comes highly recommended.
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