The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife

A Novel

Book - 2011
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May 26, 2020

I found this book a little tedious. The plot isn't strong enough to tie the stories in each chapter together, nor do the stories themselves provide any deeper insights into life. The writing is competent, but the effect is ho-hum.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Dec 16, 2019

Magic realism and a historical tale in a unique setting. A couple of my favorite things. I understand why this is showing up on readalike lists for Disappearing Ms. Obreht has a new novel out this year: Inland.

Nov 03, 2019


Jul 03, 2019

Each chapter is beautifully written but the connection between the chapters is disorganized. It never provides true resolution re: her grandfather, the deathless man and her own story as a doctor. Not sure I would recommend this. Often time, confusing secondary to lack of fluency from story to story.

Jul 01, 2019

I can’t rate this as I never understood anything about it.

Feb 12, 2019

Ugh, two stars, but only because some of the folk stories were interesting. The purpose for this girls journey is never resolved, but the author wraps it up like she has covered everything and you should feel transformed by this book. Just no. I think this book has so much hype because it appears really high brow, but apparently I'm not alone in being frustrated here. And no, I dont want to have to read interviews with the author and discussions in order to understand this book.

Jun 29, 2017

This was a fascinating, disturbing, suspenseful, thought-provoking novel. The author writes of the wars in the Balkans and their after- effects in the in a very realistic and believable way, without ever giving any real names of towns or "sides," but still gives enough local and historical detail that it made me want to learn more about that region. The central relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter is well written and touching. The mysteries surrounding her grandfather's death and youth were fascinating. I would have liked this book more if there weren't so many unanswered questions at the end, and if there was less violence towards the end of the novel. I also didn't like that the author seems to want to deliberately leave us hanging at the end... what part of the stories the grandfather told were real and what wasn't? I like magic realism, and I think it could have worked in this story, but instead it was divided almost completely between concrete present day reality and the magical stories of her grandfather's youth and early career. At the same time there are enough "maybe it is real" parts towards the end that it gets kind of annoying: either let us know what is real and what isn't, or stop teasing us with the "what ifs." *Spoiler alert* The last part about the tiger living in the woods, mourning his "wife"... that was sort of weird, it seems impossible that a tiger could live that long. I generally like backstories, but in the case of the butcher and the hunter, rather than making them more sympathetic characters, their backstories made it even more disturbing that two men who were sensitive and thoughtful in their youth could be capable of so much violence. The last third or so of the book seemed really violent, especially the treatment of the deaf-mute girl, who is never even given a name! I would have liked to learn more about her character and motivations, but we aren't given much beyond the sympathy and understanding between her and the tiger. Some of the loose ends that I wanted answered were: Did the apothecary deliberately poison the tiger's wife with the drink he sent with her grandfather, and if so, why? Why didn't the townsman know or care where the tiger's wife was buried? Was the person at the crossroads that Natalie encounters the "deathless man" or just someone keeping old beliefs alive? Why couldn't the butcher have said "This isn't the woman I asked to marry, you tricked me" and get on with his life? What really is the point of the two stories? Does the deathless man represent the grandfather's changing attitude toward death as he ages? What is the point of the tiger's wife story? I know the ambiguity makes the story more relate-able to real life in a way, but for my leisure reading I don't want this amount of uncertainty.

multcolib_susannel Mar 07, 2017

When her grandfather disappears, Natalia travels to a strange country to find him, using the stories he used to tell her as a map.

Jan 28, 2017

A very different kind of story, with an intertwining of myth and present-day stories. The setting is in the Balkans and the history and culture is a felt experience in the stories of this novel. There are classical themes brought to vivid life in the characters and places of the story. A pleasure to read.

Jun 08, 2016

A beautifully told story - the movement from one storyline to the next was sometimes confusing, but the imagery was vivid and striking.

timbert Nov 12, 2015

Great imagination sections on mythical characters are best readers are at times left to expand or fill in detail for themselves which I think is a good technique for this kind of the story. In fact I feel the author intends to keep a low profile for herself, the opposite of most. There were some passages that could have been improved with a little more polish. Well worth reading, looking forward to her next book

Sep 30, 2015


LPL_ShirleyB Aug 24, 2015

This is a well-written and complex story set in the war-torn Balkans; some intense descriptions of violence are included. The main character, Natalia, is coping with the loss of her grandfather. The deathless man and the tiger’s wife are among the mystical elements in this tale. A recommendation from Kelly at the Raven Bookstore inspired me to buy this book.

PoMoLibrary Jul 30, 2015

From our 2015 #80DayRead Summer Reading Club traveler Mallee: Natalie travels to an orphanage in the Balkans where secrets lurk in the countryside alongsider her recently deceased grandfather's secrets.

msmigels Apr 08, 2015

The writing is beautiful and Obreht’s extravagant imagination makes parts of the novel read like a picaresque romp through some enchanted Balkan kingdom, rife with magic, murder and mayhem. In the end, however, "The Tiger's Wife" might have benefited from a little less art and a little more life.

kbo90 Mar 14, 2015

Creepy little thriller set against a faux eastern European backdrop mixing together superstition, small town group-think, and unsettled bones. Yes please!

Feb 08, 2015

This was an interesting book - but hard to get into for me and I had to push myself to finish. I felt that it picked up in the end, but I still felt that it didn't flow well for me. Still, the author definitely knows how to write, but the pieces just didn't seem to fit for me.

Dec 13, 2014


LPL_ShirleyB Oct 21, 2014

I was compelled to buy this book after reading the recommendation from Kelly at the Raven Bookstore!

Sep 20, 2014

I was excited to read a novel based in the Balkans (an unnamed country), and it had won several prestigious awards. The beginning was strong. I enjoyed the stories of the past, depicting village life and especially of musicians and of those who are disabled, and of the present, showing how different generations respond to on-going war.
The ending started to fall apart, though. It felt as though the poetic and magical-realism writing style had overpowered the plot. There were too many colorful characters introduced in the last fifth of the book whose entire biographies had to be recounted. And the ending -- I still did not understand why the grandfather left to die alone, or the deathless man, or ... a bit frustrating.
But this is a talented author and a new voice. I look forward to reading future works by her, and to learning more about this area of the world through her writing.

Sep 17, 2014

This is excellent book which will introduce you to Balkan countries, present, past legends and connection to rest of the world. I personally admire young author and her poetic description of animals. I am also very found of her relationship with her grandfather, her recall of childhood and stories, his stories and her stories she grow up with and how language generally reflect our life, job, politics, nations.

Feb 13, 2014

This was one of the Blind Date with a Book books. I thought the Grandfather's stories were more interesting than the modern day stories and the ending was weak. I have a feeling that I don't know enough about Balkan history or mythology to enjoy this book fully.

Jan 11, 2014

My friend Caroline picked this book to kick off our book club this year. I have always wanted to read it, saw it in all the major book stores, on all the big lists of the books you must read and its just a neat cover. It took me a little while to get into the book as I really didn't understand what it was about but what hooked me was her writing. Her imagery and writing style is just beautiful. I will definitely be reading another one of her books based just on that.

My favorite parts of the book were the stories of The Deathless Man. Throughout the book you learn about her grandfather, his childhood, his life and his experiences through the stories that he told her as she was growing up. It was very touching to learn how much she loved her grandfather and what an impact he had on her life.

What bothered me most about this book was that the tiger had no point, there was no reason for the tiger or the tiger's wife other than they had never seen a tiger before in her grandfather's village. This was a dark book and at some points violent. It was extremely interesting to read, I enjoyed it and will recommend it to others.

Oct 08, 2013

I really enjoyed being in the middle of this story, all the richness from the different time points and reading the grandfather's tales, I also liked the author's writing style and how things unfolded, but for me there wasn't the depth of meaning that other people seemed to find in this book.

Aug 07, 2013

This is one of those rare modern books that reads like classic literature. The characters are diverse, varied, and realistic, and the story moves through time with a fluidity that sometimes outpaced my comprehension. I can see why this won awards.

The main character's journey is double-sided: she's putting together the story of her grandfather, what he's told her and what she finds out after traveling to his hometown; she's also finding a piece of magic in herself. And along the way, each character contributes something to your understanding of the world.

I loved that Tea Obreht made even the most hateful characters redeemable in some small way. The narrator, and we readers, begin the book skeptical of the inherent magic of folklore that drives the story, but by the end it's become part of the tapestry of life. This is the kind of book that makes me want to be a part of it.

I recommend this book for fans of magical realism (like Sarah Addison Allen books), fans of mirrored physical and internal journeys, fans of female protagonists, and anyone curious about the lives of villagers in the Balkans.

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