Behind Every Man, There’s a Story By Polina

by capreviewroom

Michael Ondaatje is best known for his amazing work in The English Patient, which has captured the attention of millions and has won a number of awards as well as gone to become an award winning film. One of his other well written books is In the Skin of a Lion, which has also won many book awards including winner of the 1988 City Of Toronto Book Award. Though it has not become a movie, it’s well on its way.

This fictional story narrates the forgotten stories of immigrants and other individuals who have built the beautiful city of Toronto. With such a striking city we tend to forget how it really came to life, but with the very descriptive and easy to follow text, Michael does a great job in capturing the reader’s attention and providing them with historical events that aid them with a better understanding of the book. The book is split up into three books which follow the life of Patrick Lewis. We first meet Patrick as a young boy in the first chapter Little Seeds. As a youthful son Patrick “knew how much a piece of dynamite the size of a bull frog would destroy” (19). Not many kids his age know that kind of information, so right off the bat the reader gets the idea that Patrick has some sort of interest with dynamite and is educated with exploding things.

We then go on to read the rest of Patrick’s life where he goes off to Toronto to build the Bloor Street Bridge better known as “Prince Edward” (27). We come across another character named Nicholas Temelcoff who rescues a nun that has “fallen off the Prince Edward Viaduct bridge before it was even finished” (31).

In the third chapter (The Searcher) we take a whole different approach to Patrick’s life. He leaves his dangerous work environment and goes off to search for Ambrose Small. He then later meets Clara Dickens who he falls in love with. He experiences his heart being broken.

The second and third books of Patrick’s life takes another toll on him. He falls in love again, burns down a hotel, and ends up in prison. At the beginning of In The Skin of a Lion there is a passage that talks about a young girl and a man travelling to Marmora, we then go on to learn that that young girl is Hana and  Patrick is telling Hana his life story as they make their voyage to Marmona.

                All in all, I think this was a great book and definitely worth reading. The only difficulty I really had with this book is trying to remember all the characters. We may meet a character in the first part of the book and then they’ll re appear near the end and you won’t really remember who they were. Nevertheless I certainly enjoyed reading In The Skin of a Lion and all the new information it has provided me with.              

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