Yes, I finally finished a book. I feel like it’s taken me a very long time to finish The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. This was her debut novel. That being said, all of my opinions to come have that in mind, so keep that in mind.
What can I really say about this novel? Well, the praise from all those magazines and such that led me to believe I was going to enjoy myself where wrong, sorry Obreht. Whomever did your marketing deserves great praise.
While, there were moments that I enjoyed I had a few too many issues while reading to say I actually enjoyed the book as a whole. Obreht has great potential as a writer, but the “great story-teller” that the cover of her book claims she is, she is not. She goes into way too much description about the surrounding in which her characters reside. There’s a time and place in writing for in depth description and it’s not every page.
Many of the stories in the novel felt misplaced or irrelevant to the storyline. I honestly still don’t understand who the book is about. Is it about Natalia’s grandfather? Natalia? The tiger’s wife? The deathless man? Ok, so all the characters are associated to one degree or another, but apparently I’m six degrees away from Kevin Bacon, that doesn’t make his life’s story relevant to mine. The stories felt scattered, more like a book of short stories than a novel. I got lost between all the stories and how they connected. I kept waiting for the big connection at the end, that piece that I was missing that most author’s reveal in the end bringing about both a revelation in the main character and the reader. There was no such revelation. I found myself thinking, “Huh? That’s the end? That’s it? Wha?”
I liked the stories with the deathless man, but I feel like they lacked some deeper insight into the truth about death. Don’t ask me what that truth is, I couldn’t tell you but I felt like something was missing. Some stories I found completely unnecessary, like the story of the apothecary, his history was not relevant in ANY way to any of the other characters, not that I could tell anyways.
I felt like Obreht was trying too hard to be profound beyond her years. She’s still young and doesn’t understand a lot of the world. (I’m not saying I do. I know I understand so little of the world at my age that I need desperately to experience more of it.) The book wasn’t all bad, but it was difficult to get through. Maybe her next attempt will be better, who knows!