Literary Friday: The Tiger's Wife

Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"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."


The Tiger's Wife 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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