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The Tiger's Wife: A Novel Audible – Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews

Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Téa Obreht, the youngest of The New Yorker's 20 best American fiction writers under 40, has spun a timeless novel that will establish her as one of the most vibrant, original authors of her generation.

In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend, Zóra, begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather's recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.

Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather's final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. "These stories," Natalia comes to understand, "run like secret rivers through all the other stories" of her grandfather's life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.

©2011 Tea Obreht (P)2011 Random House Audio

Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 26 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Release Date: March 8, 2011
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004R0ODG6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

941 of 996 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
By the time she is thirteen, Natalia has taken so many trips with her grandfather to visit the caged tigers that she feels like a prisoner of ritual. Then a war hundreds of miles distant breaks the ritual: the zoo closes, curfews are implemented, students are disappearing, and spending time with her grandfather seems less important than committing small acts of defiance: staying out late, kissing a boyfriend behind a broken vending machine, and listening to black market recordings of Paul Simon and Johnny Cash. When her grandfather is suspended from his medical practice because he is suspected of harboring "loyalist feelings toward the unified state," Natalia adopts new rituals that keep her at his side when he isn't paying clandestine visits to his old patients. In return, he takes her to see an astonishing sight that offers the hope for an eventual restoration of the rituals that made up their pre-war lives. Natalia's grandfather tells her that this is their moment: not a moment of war to be shared by everyone else, but a moment that is uniquely theirs.

The Tiger's Wife is filled with wondrous moments, small scenes that assemble into a novel of power and wisdom and beauty. As an adult doctor delivering medicine across new and uncertain borders, Natalia grieves for her deceased grandfather while recalling the lessons he taught and the stories he told -- stories that more often than not center on death: how it is faced, feared, and embraced. Death is everywhere in this novel: death caused by war, by disease, by animal and man and child. And there is death's counterpoint, a character who cannot die (or so the grandfather's story goes).
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257 of 282 people found the following review helpful By zewology on August 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
From the moment I first read a review of this book, I really wanted to like it. I thought the premise sounded interesting, and the author was praised for her highly superior writing skills.

Well, I will agree that Tea Obreht can write a beautiful sentence; a beautiful paragraph ... her writing flows very well. I tend to read with a very smooth, lyrical inner voice. In many novels, this trips me up at times because the author very suddenly changes sentence structure and interrupts the flow of the writing and the words themselves. This novel was a refreshing change in that regard, and at first I quite enjoyed it simply for this quality.

However, there is another flow a book must have, and that is a flow of story. Now, I'm not saying an author can't jump around in the telling, between points of view or side stories or time lines. I have certainly enjoyed novels that do this (an author that comes to mind is Kingsolver, who tends to change perspectives every chapter). But overall, there has to be a purpose to the jumping around. In this novel, I kept waiting for some indication of this, but I never got one, even at the end. The story didn't feel finished to me; it almost didn't feel like a story at all.

Another way in which I judge a novel is whether or not I *really* want to read it. It's not the sole indication of great writing, but for me to consider a book "good" I have to want to keep reading. Unfortunately, it was the exact opposite for this novel. I was constantly putting it down after, say, ten pages, and having to force myself to pick it back up. It's taken me a few weeks to read (with other things in between); this is an eternity for me.
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523 of 591 people found the following review helpful By me on April 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I certainly have read worse books in my life, but few have been as disappointing. This is not entirely the author's fault, since she and her book have been so publicized and honored prior to arrival that expectations were extraordinarily high. The novel is, however, "OK," a far cry from the praise pre-pub comments trumpeted. What is refreshing about the book is that we at least have an author who knows how to craft a careful sentence and cares as much about how she tells a story as the story itself. The fantastical elements, noted in other reviews, also are signs of a fertile imagination. Unfortunately, neither of these strengths quite overcomes the weaknesses, of which I would cite two primarily: 1) the primary narrative asks us to be emotionally moved by the death of the narrator's grandfather, but we really do not know any of the main present-day characters in enough depth to share their loss. In fact, despite the good will of the narrator (she's a doctor trying to help sick orphans!), she comes off as whiny and self-involved; 2) on the other hand, the parts of the narrative that show real strength, in which the novel turns toward folklore in stories about the titular tiger's wife or the deathless man, end up overwhelming so much with details that we begin to wish the stories to come to an end. The imagination, in other words, seems to have run amok. A great steak doesn't taste better by adding more of it to the plate. (If you've read a lot of Rushdie over the years, you might also tire more quickly of these passages, as they are reminiscent of much of his work.) It's nice to see an author with a big imagination and fine skill with words get published; it's just unfortunate that that imagination and skill didn't result in a novel that lived up to its potential, or its hype.
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