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The Cat's Table    by Michael Ondaatje order for
Cat's Table
by Michael Ondaatje
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

An eleven-year-old boy, Michael, travels from his home in India to London to meet his mother, whom he has not seen in several years. The ship Oronsay will be his home for three weeks, but the experience will have a lifelong effect.

Seeing shipboard life through Michael's and his two young friends' eyes gives a wonderful perspective on the ship, its personnel, and its truly interesting passengers in the various classes. The boys defy all attempts at any kind of boundaries, and so learn lots about the adults around them, some of which they can really only understand later.

Ondaatje's coming-of-age tale resonates beyond the voyage on into Michael's adulthood. The strangers he meets both tantalize and repel him, but it will be many years later until he can say why. It is this combination of present incidents connected with future knowledge and experience that is so compelling in this work.

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