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
It is hard to know whether it's the author reading his own work, his language or the wonder of the story that makes this book so captivating. On every level it is a wonderful tale of adventure and growth.
I was totally immersed in the story which is a tale of a boy traveling to England on his own. He befriends two other boys on the ship and proceed to have adventures that are both exciting and believable. The adults who influence them on this journey are colorful and beautiful described.
I am really writing this review to myself, so that later, at a differnt time in my life, I may decide to try to listen again.
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