Despite its history of wars, brutality, and human loss, MOON TIGER does not oppress its heroine or reader with the weight of suffering, but rather charms their minds and expands their hearts with an elevating sense of unbounded possibilities. Claudia fosters this expansion through her adventurous spirit, her desire to create “alternative history” on the basis of emotional transformations that do not result in replacing one intellectual mythology with another merely for the sake of change.
The emotional core of the novel is Claudia’s brief love affair in Egypt with a young tank commander, Tom Southern, who is later killed in action. Rather than progressing in linear fashion the novel circles around the still point of this idyllic romance, a point that transcends the boundaries of time and space--as do all the sacred points of human experience. Claudia’s thoughts and memories intermingle with the voices of the other characters to create an emotionally coherent and optimistic vision of human existence.
MOON TIGER unfolds through a series of dramatic scenes that give the novel a poetic intensity reminiscent of D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. While each scene is apparently autonomous and often presented twice from different perspectives, the effect is not one of disturbance, disorientation, or chaos. While Claudia initially believes that history is disorder by definition, the novel counteracts this belief by creating a powerful dialectic between point and infinity, between the individual and the universal, which has the effect of expanding the awareness from disorderly conventional boundaries toward an open sense of perfect order--as in Claudia’s experience at the end of the novel of being “filled with elation, a surge of joy, of well-being, of wonder.”
Sources for Further Study
The Christian Science Monitor. May 5, 1988, p. 20.
Contemporary Review. CCLI, July, 1987, p. 45.
The Economist. October 24, 1987, p. 107.
Kirkus Reviews. LVI, February 1, 1988, p. 148.
London Review of Books. IX, May 21, 1987, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. May 8, 1988, p. 3.
New Statesman. CXIII, May 8, 1987, p. 23.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, April 17, 1988, p. 9.
The New Yorker. LXIV, August 8, 1988, p. 84.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIII, February 12, 1988, p. 71.
Time. CXXXI, May 2, 1988, p. 86.
The Times Literary Supplement. May 15, 1987, p. 515.
The Wall Street Journal. March 22, 1988, p. 32.