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The Cat's Table Audiobook

The Cat's Table

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (317 )
5 star
 (110)
4 star
 (81)
3 star
 (73)
2 star
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1 star
 (14)
Overall
3.8 (268 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.7 (272 )
5 star
 (106)
4 star
 (53)
3 star
 (59)
2 star
 (33)
1 star
 (21)
Performance
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  •  
    Nan Ayers San Mateo, CA 01-09-12
    Nan Ayers San Mateo, CA 01-09-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    7
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    "Sometimes authors shouldn't read their books"
    What did you like best about The Cat's Table? What did you like least?

    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.


    Would you recommend The Cat's Table to your friends? Why or why not?

    I may read the book and then decide.


    What didn’t you like about Michael Ondaatje’s performance?

    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.


    Was The Cat's Table worth the listening time?

    No - it was hard to follow because of the poor presentation.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra Arlington, VA, United States 06-20-12
    Sandra Arlington, VA, United States 06-20-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    328
    67
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    "Authors should never record their own books"

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leah Ann Henry 08-31-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    13
    5
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    "review"

    struggled to finish, but likely would not take it up again in the near future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Astrid Rusquellas 05-23-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    3
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    Story
    "Disappointing !! phony "

    The reading by the author monotonous,boring,falsely nostalgic pseudo romantic.
    A bit better than Divisadero, but that is not saying much.
    Astrid Rusquellas

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Chicago, IL 04-09-14
    Amazon Customer Chicago, IL 04-09-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    4
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    "Horrible monotone narrator"
    If you could sum up The Cat's Table in three words, what would they be?

    Narrator is dreadful


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Michael Ondaatje?

    Anybody else. I loved the book, but had to put it down, because it was so straining to hear and understand Michael Ondaatge's voice. It was extremely monotone and he finishes all his sentences with a fade out. I have stopped listening to a few audible books because the books were bad, but I have never stopped listening because of the narration. But, it was simply too much to overcome.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    arlene Raleigh, NC 08-05-13
    arlene Raleigh, NC 08-05-13 Member Since 2015

    English teacher nerd, love books with character depth and a good plot, and enjoy almost any genre.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "I tried and could not finish"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    What was most disappointing about Michael Ondaatje’s story?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I can't say there is Ny scene that is my favorite.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Frustration- it had some potential but it fizzles badly.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eck Lansdale, PA, United States 04-15-13
    Eck Lansdale, PA, United States 04-15-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Masterpiece"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Momo San Francisco 03-18-13
    Momo San Francisco 03-18-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Rambling after a charming beginning"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes but not real strongly - it the least well done of several books I've read by author


    Has The Cat's Table turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    What about Michael Ondaatje’s performance did you like?

    Engaging way of reading


    Was The Cat's Table worth the listening time?

    On a scale of one to ten I would give it a six


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Irene Smithers, BC, Canada 10-31-12
    Irene Smithers, BC, Canada 10-31-12
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    Story
    "Ondaatje's voice is deep, awesome, nicely paced"
    What did you love best about The Cat's Table?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Michael Ondaatje’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi CHEVY CHASE, MD, United States 08-13-12
    Kristi CHEVY CHASE, MD, United States 08-13-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    72
    4
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    "love the book, just not the audio version"
    Would you listen to The Cat's Table again? Why?

    No


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Michael


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Michael Ondaatje?

    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.


    If you could rename The Cat's Table, what would you call it?

    keep the title


    Any additional comments?

    Loved the characters, and thought the story was worth a read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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