In the Opinion of a Canadian | Shabi A.

by capreviewroom

Michael Ondaatje is a Canadian author who is famously known for his novel, The English Patient, which later became a well-received movie adaptation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 1987 novel, In the Skin of a Lion, also became a movie; it definitely has enough twists, turns and suspense for Hollywood.

Ondaatje studied archived photographs for the writing of this novel and paints a vivid picture of Toronto in the forty’s. In the Skin of a Lion is a tale of a few different characters that intertwine and relate to each other. Thru Ondaatje’s detailed and gripping writing, you quickly become attached to each character. We meet Patrick Lewis, the main character, in his childhood in the small area of Depot Creek, Ontario. Right away, you are drawn and curious to know how we interact with him for the rest of the novel. Patrick is then followed through his life, introducing us to new characters such as family, lovers and colleagues. In his early 20’s, Patrick moves from Depot Creek to the city and becomes a searcher. What’s a searcher you may ask? “On December 16, 1919, Ambrose Small failed to keep an appointment. A million dollars had been taken from his bank account. He had either been murdered or was missing. His body, alive or dead, was never found”. Patrick was a searcher for Ambrose Small, a millionaire. From here, the story really takes off and you will be surprised to see what happens next.

What you may love, or hate, about this novel is that it does not focus on one story or event; you are following many tales at once. It’s about the hard working immigrants building away, the suspense of a missing millionaire, the lust between lovers or the ups and down of mans life. It’s about the story of Toronto; how it became what we know today. It’s about many things, which keeps you both entertained and pacing to keep up.

What’s strong about this novel is that it appeals to many readers thanks to Ondaatje’s writing. In the Skin of a Lion goes forward and backward in time, explaining everything you need to know in the end with great detail. It’s amazing to realize how involved you are with these characters and just how bad you want to know how Patrick’s life turns out. Overall, this novel is beautifully detailed and a definite page turner.


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