In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table” - as far from the Captain’s Table as can be - with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. 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 as well: one man talks with them about jazz and women, another opens the door to the world of literature. The narrator’s elusive, beautiful cousin Emily becomes his confidante, allowing him to see himself “with a distant eye” for the first time, and to feel the first stirring of desire. Another Cat’s Table denizen, the shadowy Miss Lasqueti, is perhaps more than what she seems. And very late every night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and his 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 - by turns poignant and electrifying - about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.
From the Hardcover edition.
©2011 Michael Ondaatje (P)2011 Random House Audio
I love Ondaatje's characters and he develops a good story. I wish I could have enjoyed it more and would have with a better reader.
I may read the book and then decide.
I have heard MO in person and he is a compelling speaker. As a reader he is difficult to follow -- far too soft and rather flat in his presentation. Such a shame.
No - it was hard to follow because of the poor presentation.
Just saying - Ondaatje writes lyrically, speaks sloppily. I have listened to 4 books read by their authors, and only 1 really worked for me.
Ondaatie's voice is so old for his fictional self, Michael. It wasn't until the very end of the novel that his fascination with Emily becomes clearer, and the kind of impact I remember in English Patient is present. Expected more.
The reading by the author monotonous,boring,falsely nostalgic pseudo romantic.
A bit better than Divisadero, but that is not saying much.
English teacher nerd, love books with character depth and a good plot, and enjoy almost any genre.
A person who is not into character development, a person who likes a stagnant or missing plot, and someone who is patient enough to listen to ten minutes of description and one minute of dialogue.
The snails pace. Slow can be good in a story if there is an element which entertains the reader. This was lacking any magical element.
I can't say there is Ny scene that is my favorite.
Frustration- it had some potential but it fizzles badly.
I'm not even finished and this is already one of my favorite books I've ever "read." Ondaatje's writing is captivating. I find myself listening over and over to some passages because of their pure beauty. Certainly the voyage from Ceylon to England is a natural metaphor for the journeys we take in life and this book does speak to that universal experience, Cats Table is so much more. It is a memoir, a love story, even poetry in its way. The author's narration lends greater depth and feeling, because we hear it as he sounds it out in his head as he is writing. His unique accent is sometimes hard to understand, and for me that makes it even better, because I have to pay close attention. Ondaatje's works are a gift to the English speaking world, to be savored, cherished, and celebrated.
Yes but not real strongly - it the least well done of several books I've read by author
Engaging way of reading
On a scale of one to ten I would give it a six
I loved how the story starts in childhood and gradually transitions to a much more complex adult story full of fascinating characters who are often over-looked in society. Each chapter can stand alone, it is so tightly woven.
I have not listened to any of MO's other performances, but compared to other readings I have heard, his voice was amazing and so well-paced. Of course the story itself is as good or better than his previous books.
The pacing of his voice was especially important as I was buying the audiobook version for my 87 yr old mother who has had a stroke. She can't speak, but her mind is all there and so MA's strong male voice in her life is special I think! Many of the other audiobooks i tried sounded busy/chattery. I wanted a complex story that was told at a decent pace.
Someone that is a professional audio book reader. I usually love listening to the author read, especially autobiographies like Bossypants and Kitchen Confidential. But Michael is impossible to understand. I listen to audiobooks on my long commute on the highway, and I had to turn it up to deafening loud to even sort of understand what he was saying. In addition, to his accent being difficult to understand, he would trail off and speak more quietly at the end of every sentence. Insufferable.
keep the title
Loved the characters, and thought the story was worth a read.
I would like to read the "hard copy", having listened to the Audible.
Miss Lasqueti. She is a single woman with a mysterious past and a kind present. The detail of the vest with the pigeons creates a wonderful instant visual.
For one, I know how to pronounce all the exotic names of the characters that I might not be able to on the page.
Not sure I could improve on the title.
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