#book review TIGER by Polly Clark

Out in paperback today!


Set across two continents, Tiger is a sweeping story of survival and redeeming love that plunges the reader into one of the world’s last wildernesses with blistering authenticity.

Frieda is a primatologist, sensitive and solitary, until a violent attack shatters her ordered world. In her new role as a zookeeper, she confronts a very different ward: an injured wild tiger.

Deep in the Siberian taiga, Tomas, a Russian conservationist, fears that the natural order has toppled. The king tiger has been killed by poachers and a spectacular tigress now patrols his vast territory as her own.

In a winter of treacherous competition, the path of the tigress and her cub crosses with an Udeghe huntress and her daughter. Vengeance must follow, and the fates of both tigers and people are transformed.

Learning of her tiger’s past offers Frieda the chance of freedom. Faced with the savage forces of nature, she must trust to her instinct and, like the tiger, find a way to live in the world.


A wonderfully researched and thoughtful novel, bringing together four different stories all linked together by the majestic Siberian Tiger.

The first story is that of Frieda, which I really enjoyed a lot.  A Primatologist working with Bonobo monkeys, we read of her struggle with medication addiction after suffering a head injury during an attack in London. She loses her job and ends up in Devon working in a slightly eccentric zoo, with some very eccentric people, looking after a Siberian Tiger called Luna.

In a very noticeable contrast we jump to Siberia where we meet Tomas a Russian conservationist and learn about The King tiger and the Countess and her cubs.  Beautifully told with wonderful descriptions of life out in these parts.

Next we meet Edit a member of the Udeghe people, we learn about her husband, daughter and of her feelings for her need to escape.  I think I enjoyed this story the most.  The characters were superbly written and the atmosphere and descriptions of the wilderness were engrossing.

We also hear from the countess tiger herself which wonderfully loops the story of her hunt for food with her cubs to the parts of her story we have already heard.  Lastly the book finishes in some of the characters actually coming together bound by their common love for the tigers.

I enjoyed this book far more than I thought I would.  It is a novel but so much more and written in a very different way to other things I have read recently.  I very much enjoyed the contrast between each story.  It was like eating a 6 course meal where each dish was completely different in flavour from the one before and had the taste buds jumping from one delicious treat to another.  The earthiness of the zoo, the clean modernity of the research unit and the ice coldness of the snow coupled with the bloody catches of Edit’s and the Countess’ hunting made for a heady and fantastic mix.

I loved the fact that it also had me constantly reaching for my phone.  No not for twitter but to google snippets of information about Tigers, Bonobos, The Udeghe people, even Putin! Learning things I didn’t know due to the wonderful research that has gone into writing about the Tigers and their landscape.

I also very much liked the similarities in each story like the misfits brought together in the zoo with the men living on the remote conservation camp. The survival of Edit and Zina in their hut with Freida’s survival to live in the real world and the Tiger’s hunting to survive.  And of course the many challengers and changes each and everyone of the characters will experience along the way.

Tiger is published in hardback by Quercus on May 2nd. Many thanks to NetGalley for my advanced copy.

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