Tiger, Tiger by Galaxy Craze

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Tiger, Tiger by Galaxy Craze

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: Enjoyable light novel about a troubled marriage, a teenage awakening, and a Hindu style ashram in California.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: January 2009
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd
ISBN: 978-0224087377

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The last time my mother left my father, he was sitting at the kitchen table. So begins this story, which is told by the teenage May. Her brother Eden is six years younger than she is, but they have become quite close; possibly due to their parents' unpredictable relationship. The first few chapters take us into a few reminiscences of the past, interspersed with present-day happenings.

Then their mother Lucy decides to take her children a little further away than her father in Scotland. She is in touch with an old friend who belongs to a Hindu style ashram community in California. They go for a fortnight, and their stay extends, apparently indefinitely. May doesn't like it at first. She's unimpressed by the required chores, and the wholegrain vegetarian diet. But then she becomes close to Sati, a rather manipulative girl who awakens her sexually. Meanwhile, Lucy finds a friend in Sati's mother Caroline, and Eden too makes a friend his own age. However, everything changes when Caroline gives birth to a baby and decides to give the baby to Parvati, the spiritual leader of the ashram.

Tiger, Tiger is a surprisingly light-weight read that I finished in just a few hours, despite some fairly heavy subject matter. Assuming the picture painted of the ashram is fairly accurate, it gives a good understanding of the kinds of people who benefit from this type of community, as well as the potential flaws - some rigid rules, for instance, that are not necessarily helpful. Sati and May's developing intimate relationship could have been sordid, but somehow it wasn't; possibly this is because it's told from the perspective of naivité and relative innocence.

The overall theme is about the balance of family life and spirituality. Lucy really wants to be part of the ashram, to see Parvati as some kind of high priest with direct access to God, and to do nothing but serve her. But she can't come to terms with Caroline's pain when she gives up her baby, and finds it hard to be away from her own children, particularly Eden. Seeing this from May's point of view rather than Lucy's own makes it all the more powerful. It almost feels at times as if May is the adult, and her volatile mother a child she finds frustrating, but loves dearly.

I gather that this is a sequel to the author's first novel, By the Shore, which explores May and Eden's parents' relationship more thoroughly. It's a tribute to the author that it didn't feel like a sequel; there were no dull flashbacks, no irrelevant characters who clearly had some other story elsewhere. Having discovered that there is an earlier book, I shall put it on my wishlist! Recommended to anyone wanting a light, yet thought-provoking read.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending this book.

If you enjoy Tiger, Tiger, you might also like Pandora's Box by Giselle Green.

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Buy Tiger, Tiger by Galaxy Craze at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tiger, Tiger by Galaxy Craze at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Tiger, Tiger by Galaxy Craze at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tiger, Tiger by Galaxy Craze at Amazon.com.


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