Wednesday, September 28

Book Review: The Cat's Table

Title: The Cat's Table

Author: Michael Ondaatje

Pages: Ebook (aprox. 288)

Summary: From Michael Ondaatje: a stunning new novel, by turns poignant and electrifying—one of his most vividly rendered works of fiction. In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a ship bound for England, and at mealtimes is seated at the “cat’s table” with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, “bursting all over the place like freed mercury.” But there are other diversions: one man talks to them about jazz and women, another about literature. And at night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner—his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever.

As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship and the boy’s adult years, it tells a spellbinding story about the differences between the tender innocence of childhood and the burdens of earned understanding, and about a lifelong journey that began unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I really enjoyed this book, in fact there were times I had a hard time putting it down.

The author was an amazing writer and storyteller. I was pulled in from the first paragraphs and hooked to the end, even in the parts were the plot didn't move as fast, I was involved and devouring it all in, solely on his writing style alone. I'm differently hunting down his other works.

The story itself was also interesting, as a young boy travels on a ship to England. At the people on the ship who shaped him who he is later in life. He had some interesting adventures while on the ship and the reader meets an eclectic cast of characters along the way. All of whom sit at the same dinner table as Michael, and all have some effect on him at some point during the story and sometimes later on in life. It was a fantastic coming of age story and as the reader, we get to see Michael in both past and future and all the in between as he reminisces about his life and memories. I enjoyed being able to see tidbits of different points in his life, and how they all intertwined to his time spent on the ship.

While I did enjoy reading the various storylines, throughout various points of time in Michael's life, I wished it was executed better. There wasn't a lot of distinction between the time lines, so it was awkward at times trying to piece everything together. Otherwise, it was a very good read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I had a few issues with how it was told, but it was still a great coming of age book. Well worth reading.

What to read next: I plan on hunting down more books by the author, so I'd start there.

Challenges: 100+ Books, 2011 Countdown Challenge, Canadian Reading Challenge 5, Global Reading Challenge


  1. thanks for sharing your thoughts. my sister is urging me to get a copy as she wants to read it as well. visiting via The Book Mine Set.

  2. Heather - thanks for stopping by. It was a really good book, you should get a copy and read it, well worth reading.

  3. I didn't put it down! Sometimes I find it hard to pick up his work again once I set it down, so I reserved the day to sink into it, and it must have been just what I needed, because I absolutely loved it.

  4. Buried in Print - This is my first book with the author, I can see how it would be hard to pick it up after putting it down. Glad you enjoyed it so much, isn't great to be able to reserve a day and curl up with a good book and let your self become lost in it?