The Tiger's Wife
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It took him a long time to ask, “Been around children much?” He wasn’t looking at me, so he didn’t see me shrug. After a while, I shrugged again, tapped my book with a pencil. Eventually, I asked: “Why?” He sat up, pushed his chair away from the table and rubbed his knees. “When men die, they die in fear,” he said. “They take everything they need from you, and as a doctor it is your job to give it, to comfort them, to hold their hand. But children die how they have been living—in hope. They don’t know what’s happening, so they expect nothing, they don’t ask you to hold their hand—but you end up needing them to hold yours. With children, you’re on your own. Do you understand?
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Amid the war-scarred landscape of a fictionalized Balkan country, a young doctor, Natalia, faces superstition and secrecy on a humanitarian trip to an orphanage across the border. At the same time, she searches for the truth of her grandfather's mysterious final days and his solitary death in a small country village. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, we learn, “the forty days of the soul begin on the morning after death.” During that time, it will “make its way to the places of its past.” Natalia must return home with her grandfather's personal effects before those forty days pass so that his soul can find its way. Des Plaines Readers' Services/Ms_Fitz
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