In the Skin of the Lion, Read ONCE and only ONCE!

by walden91


Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion is a novel made up of several stories whose characters overlap, gathered together around the main character, Patrick Lewis. Patrick Lewis is at the beginning of the novel just a boy, but as the novel continues he grows from a boy into a man. The son of a dynamite expert, Patrick leaves the Ontario farm of his birth to move to Toronto; there he experiences and witness’s life as a working class person in the earlier part of the 20th century.

What was most interesting to me with this novel was the eventful images you could just imagine during certain scenes: Nicholas Temelcoff catching the falling nun on page 32 “They hung in the halter, pivoting over the valley, his broken arm loose on one side of him, holding the woman with the other” and Patrick Lewis getting lit on fire on page 94 “He smells and feels kerosene pour across his shoulders, hears the rasp of the match that will kill him in the hand of Small who crouches on the roof”. This descriptive narration really paints a picture for you and also keeps the reader alert and curious, trying to anticipate what will happen next.

This particular book had a lot of hype behind it so I came into it with an open mind, and I read it once, and only once. What really frustrated me throughout this novel was the fact that you would be reading and all of a sudden you couldn’t tell if it was part of the novel or the character had sidetracked into a wild dream. Two examples of this confusing style are on page 184 when Caravaggio is attacked in his prison cell and towards the end of the novel when Patrick Lewis is swimming through pipes underwater. It’s very annoying when you’re the reader and you have to decide whether it’s part of the novel or not.

I believe Michael Ondaatje’s purpose to writing this novel was to show people Toronto in the early 1900’s through the eyes of the working class people who worked very hard, for very little. The story telling is extremely visual and main characters seem very protective of their secrets. This book is for those who enjoy reading for reading’s sake; it was a combination of a fairytale and unnecessary sex scenes.

Word Count: 394


One Comment to “In the Skin of the Lion, Read ONCE and only ONCE!”

  1. unnecessary sex scenes and vulgar words which i think is inappropriate looking back at the time and place of the story!

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