Review: The Tiger’s Wife (Part Two)

Inevitably, it got pretty hard to want to pick this book up about halfway through. To see why please read Part One. It’s strange how certain books come to you at the most appropriate time of your life. Are most of our favourite novels all about timing? More than anything else this novel is a narrative of grief.

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“I had been longing for my grandfather all day without letting myself think about it….They had lost children themselves, my grandparents: a son and a daughter, both stillborn, within a year of each other. It was another thing they never talked about, a fact I knew somehow without knowing how I’d ever heard about it, something buried so long ago, in such absolute silence, that I could go for years without remembering it. When I did I was always stunned by the fact that they had survived it, this thing that sat between them.” (129-130)

This is the perfect example of how confusing grief can be, to have the world still go on around you and how you can feel as though you are not allowed to let yourself think about it. It is also an example of how grief separates us, as the knowledge of her grandparents loss distances Natalia from them. This is because grief is not spoken about. This can be seen several times throughout the novel for example when Natalia goes to collect her late grandfather’s belongings the nurse she encounters is indifferent to his death saying “nothing about my grandfather being a nice man, nothing about how it was a shame he had died.” (143) Obreht manages to express these feelings naturally without under or overplaying the role of grief in the life of her protagonist. While grieving we can see her continue with her profession, we see her continue with social interaction. While she grieves we see that the magic still exists…

“There was something familiar about the room and the village, a crowded feeling of sadness that crawled into my gut, but not for the first time, like a note of music I could recognise but not name. I don’t know how long I stood there before I thought of the deathless man.”

I found that the magical realism in this novel was done really well. In fact I believe this novel is far more entertaining than One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, a staple of magical realism. The story takes place in various time periods, or rather the novel is a masterful combination of stories from different time periods of her and her grandfather’s life. In fact the story sometimes goes back further than her grandfather’s birth and gives the reader back-stories of lesser characters.

If someone asked me to describe the characters in this novel then I have no doubt that I would sound like a crazy person, and yet the characters were not so outlandish that it seemed ridiculous when reading. This may be due to the fact Natalia acts as a storyteller and is somewhat detached from certain stories, telling us through various word of mouth encounters. However it is Natalia’s story that is real and relatable and perhaps that is why we, as readers, are willing to come along on this journey of discovery with her.

Overall I enjoyed Obreht’s writing, I especially loved her character descriptions and I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Tiger’s Wife. Obreht did not rush the ending which I was wary about, particularly as this is a début novel, the story came to a natural end and managed to maintain some of its mystery. While it is unlike anything I’ve read so far this year, (this is book #27) if I had to name a book I found similar to Obreht’s novel it would be The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey which I happen to also have a review for. I draw this comparison due to the fact that they are both, original, modern fairytales. Although, Obreht’s fairytale is loosely based on the historical bombing of Belgrade Zoo during the Second World War where a tiger was believed to have gone missing and was never found. That being said the role of the tiger in the novel was not as clichéd as you might expect and Obreht’s novel is more than a war-novel. Some of the characters of this novel will be on my mind for a long time.

 

Sophie

 

On the Road – Review

Prior to reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac I was really optimistic, I had heard lots of good reviews and lots of people were talking about it. Not to mention it has appears on so many ‘100 books to read before you die’ lists. Already it sound like I hate it but that is not the case. It’s not that it’s a bad book; it is just a very difficult book to read when you have a busy lifestyle.

I am going to discuss the plot a little and try not to spoil anything for our readers. The Story is about Sal Paradise who is the narrator and his travels across America. There are five parts of the novel that are five different stints of being On the Road. Sal’s friend Dean Moriarty is a prominent story line in the novel. The novel is set in 1947-1950 in America in the post-war beat culture. Its all about the Jazz scene in America at that time.

The first stint On the Road was my favourite by far the endless ‘newness’ that Sal discovered and the fact he was constantly just scrapping by, getting a job here and there when required. At this point in the novel I was really enjoying the novel. Dean’s character, in other words he is a bit of a character, shines through. At some points you feel as though Sal would like to be like Dean and not have a care in the world and some times you get the impression that he feels sorry and even wants to avoid him at times. The first stint ended due to the inevitable lack of money and Sal needing to go back home to New York to his Aunts house to recoup both energy and money.

The novel continues in the same vain with slightly different experiences along the way. This is the main issue I have with the novel. I feel like every chapter is almost identical to the one before and it just feels like you are constantly reading the same thing in a different location. The fact that it feels like a chore to continue at times puts me off massively.

Dean Moriarty first of all comes across as a bit crazy and insightful turns out to be a complete nutcase who is actually a bit of an arsehole. I would not look up to him in the way Sal does and if anything I would try to avoid him like most of the other characters strive to do.

The fact that nothing really life changing occurs and the fact that Kerouac didn’t actually live these moments makes the novel a bit of a flop. I enjoyed it however I do not think I will be picking it up again anytime soon. I do however have it on good authority that Kerouac’s Big Sur is a much better novel and actually truthful. I therefore look forward to reading that in the future. I am however going to check out the 2012 film adaptation by Francis Ford Capolla of One the Road as I feel the story lends itself quite well to a movie.

To conclude, if you haven’t read it you have to according to all of the lists but its really not that great. Its not terrible but its not great. I am sorry if you read this and feel like I am talking a load of rubbish and you really loved it but lets face it that is the beauty of free speech. I hope you enjoyed this kind of moany review and stay tuned for further content coming up.

Top 10 Tuesday – Top 5 (Lazy)

I have decided to take part in the Top 10 Tuesday by The Broke and the Bookish this week. This week it is the top 10 books that surprised me in either a good way or a bad way. I am only going to do my top 5 in this instance due to lack of time.

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We’re all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – Sophie gave me this book as a recommendation, she really loved this book and talked about the twist and how amazing it was. I was very much unimpressed, I can’t tell whether I just didn’t actually enjoy the book or was it because I was expecting it to be so much more?

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The Graduate by Charles Webb – Another Sophie recommendation but this time I absolutely loved it. I read it mainly so Sophie and me could do a Movie Adaptation Monday. I ended up loving both the Book and the movie; in fact I would probably say it is now in my top 10 of all time.

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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – My first Hosseini Novel but definitely not my last. Again this was another Movie Adaptation Monday, I also had to read this at School (‘Had to’) I haven’t yet picked up anther of his Novels but I will be doing so this year.

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The Martian by Andy Weir – I had heard from my Bookstagram friends that this was a good read. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but I definitely loved it. The writing is so funny and witty. I also love anything Space related and this was my ideal read.

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The Kill Order by James Dashner – I chose to read this (the Prequel) after watching the Maze Runner and enjoying the film. I did not enjoy the book. I am quite surprised that I finished this. It put me off reading any more of the series, which is a shame as the rest of the books, are supposed to be much better. I just don’t want to waste any more of my life.

I will look at my other five top ten books that surprised me in either a good way or a bad way another time.

 

Danny

Review – ASOUE Netflix Series

Last year I was challenged to read The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket the first part in a 13 book series known as A Series Of Unfortunate Events (ASOUE). I had watched the movie starring Jim Carey and was optimistic at the prospect of the book. After reading the first book as part of the challenge I enjoyed it so much that I read the following 3 books in the series and will continue to finish them all.

Lemony Snicket the narrator of the books and also stars in the new series on Netflix is hilariously gloomy and admirably witty. The casting of Patrick Warburton as Lemony was on point, his ability to keep a straight face and his stern voice brought the Narrator in the books to life perfectly. I thought the casting of Jim Carey in the 2004 movie was good, however after reading the books I believe Neil Patrick Harris to be a more resembling fit for the character. He has an ability to pull of being an absolutely horrifying person as well as being incredibly amusing to watch and sometimes, just downright creepy (yeah I am talking about Stefano).

The Netflix Series covers the first 4 books, 2 episodes per book. This made it very good for me to binge as I have only read the first 4 books so far. I was a little confused, as it appears that plots in which you do not learn about until the 5th book run parallel to the story knew and loved. I thoroughly enjoyed the series from the catchy opening theme music which changed per book to the little hint that would come to light in the next series of which I can only assume will cover the next 4 books. I will definitely aim to finish reading all 13 books before series 2.

I can say with absolute certainty that the new series is infinitely better than the 2004 movie. Sorry Jim. The story is portrayed in a lot more detail and the little things that make the book so great do not disappoint. The series is about the Baudelaire Orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny. As you can probably guess from the title they do not have the most fortunate upbringing. There will be spoilers from now on so please proceed with caution. It all starts on an overcast deserted beach where the 3 Baudelaire’s are making sand castles but mainly experimenting with Violets newest invention. Meanwhile whilst they are away their parents are perishing in a fire. It is at this stage where Mr Poe enters the equation, my least favourite character. He is full of patronising idiocy that never fails to annoy. He is the Bank Manager in charge of the Baudelaire fortune and the welfare of the now orphaned trio.

As I do not want to give too much away the general gist of the series is about the orphans being put with various so called ‘family members’ namely Count Olaf who is out to steal their fortune, so far from what I have read the Orphans use their intelligence and wit to save themselves from being caught in his clutches. Count Olaf tricks Mr Poe, which is way too easy into giving him rights of guardianship over the Baudelaire’s, the children see Count Olaf for who he is, a terrible actor trying to get his hands on their parents fortune. This again is where it starts, when his initial plan is foiled the children are moved to different family member away from Count Olaf. This issue being that he does not leave them be and follows them to each of their new guardians causing mayhem along the way.

My favourite character in the series is Klaus Baudelaire as he is known for reading himself out of a problem. This appeals to me partly down to be job and also down to my passion for reading.

I can only assume that the series will continue in the same vain in that Count Olaf keeps on pursuing the children using his manipulating charm and charismatic evil-ness (haha) and the children continue to outwit him, what I am more intrigued by is how the series ends. Do the Baudelaire’s finally find peace or is it as unfortunate as the rest?

Anyway one last note, if you have read the books then watch the series. If you are thinking about reading the books then stop thinking and get reading!

 

Danny