This is the first of the Toronto author's novels I read, and oh my god, I was blown away. Poetic, romantic language, stunning and harsh imagery and plot development. Start with this, and keep on reading; there are so many novels, works of poetry and creative non-fiction available by Ondaatje.
In the Skin of a Lion is at once a spellbinding tale of self-discovery, a tragic love affair, and a searing mystery. It is a novel exploring the depths of identity, remorse, failure, and hope. When Patrick Lewis leaves the wilderness of Canada's frontier and relocates in Toronto, he becomes a “searcher” investigating the disappearance of a famous entrepreneur named Ambrose Small. While in pursuit of the elusive millionaire, Patrick begins a torrid romance with Small’s enigmatic mistress, Clara Dickins, and later on with her equally secretive friend, Alice Gull. Elements of these stories branch off and reconnect as other characters appear and take precedence, including the inscrutable thief Caravaggio and the precocious child Hana, the daughter of Alice. Everyone’s story is fascinating and the poetic prose in which Ondaatje delivers the stories leaves you enchanted and aching for more. Indeed, with his mesmerizing and evocative style, Ondaatje’s work can feel magical and oftentimes inimitable in its beauty. He is seamless at intersecting stories and people across time and through places, and he integrates myth with history to dig deeply into the realms of human experience. When reading Ondaatje, the world expands and becomes redefined through his vision. In the Skin of a Lion is a remarkable novel from one of the world’s most preeminent writers.
A bit disjointed story line but with poetic prose. The characterization was done well. Trying to tie the story threads together along with the historical aspects was tenuous but the book is a fairly quick read and an interesting story. Worth reading if you are interested.
This book is a fierce reminder that Michael Ondaatje will always be a poet before a novelist. His story, one of his city of Toronto, is so chalk-full of bizarre imagery, unique dialogue, explicitly intimate encounters, and stunningly precise perspectives that one can at times smell the cool waters of Lake Ontario and feel the majestic stone of the Bloor Street Viaduct. However, Ondaatje seems to become trapped in his poetic habits and lose the reader along the way. All of a sudden, one is not too sure where they are, who is speaking, what has just befallen, and what message the author is trying to convey. One's final impression of the novel is a single skin-tingling passage rather than a whole story and its theme.
I found this book did not flow well and was somewhat disjointed. Maybe that's the "poetry" of his writing but I didn't particularly like it.
An interesting tale of aloneness even in crowds in the city and what love can bring one to do.
A carefully crafted novel that shines with intelligence.
however, overall,I personally didn't find it to be a page turner. I wasn't really hooked.
To be fair, at some chapters I find myself eager to turn the next page.
This novel needs to be read with a very concious mind. Details are particularly important, so I couldn't just read it before sleep or while drinking coffee. It took its own time on my schedule with nothing else associated with it.
I'm not sure if I enjoyed this book or not. It was a relatively easy read and interesting enough, but I'm luke warm about it. It felt like I was reading a book assigned by an English Lit teacher. I also couldn't help getting caught up in the weeds of the Ontario place names. The Napanee River doesn't go through Tamworth and Marmora is a couple of hours away (by 1920s driving time). There might be an advantage to not knowing the setting of a book.
I read this book for a Canadian History class in 2 days. What I enjoyed the most was the telling of a rarely told story of (Macedonian) immigrants who basically built the city of Toronto, by working in dangerous and dirty jobs. For those who like romance and intrigue there is also something for you .Ondaatje researched this book at The Toronto Public Library. You can book a tour with the City of Toronto to view the landmarks/ buildings detailed, which I have not done yet, but think is really cool!
On the plane, I found a lady who is a lawyer and a graduate of Wharton Business School. I asked her what book she was reading and she showed me this book saying that it was by the same author who wrote the English Patient. I was intrigued by the reading choice of such an accomplished lady and here I am trying to read the book.......
...will write my comment about the book after I read it!
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