The Cat's Table

The Cat's Table

Audiobook CD - 2011 | Unabridged ed
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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' 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.
Publisher: New York : Random House Audio, p2011
Edition: Unabridged ed
ISBN: 9780307943712
Branch Call Number: CDA FIC OND
Characteristics: 6 sound discs (ca. 7 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in


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Sep 19, 2018

The writing is engaging but the story seems to end with any number of questions unaddressed. There are a lot of interesting characters populating the novel which centers around a voyage from Sri Lanka to England transporting the narrator (a teenage boy) to study abroad. Various characters, particularly those at the Cat's Table (farthest from the Captain's table) are described. For the audio portion, the author takes on the task and performs reasonably well though probably not the best that could be expected.

Apr 01, 2015

This author is a master with words. He can create the place and the atmosphere with words in a way that transports you to that location and makes you feel the environment. He creates characters that are believable and emotions you can understand.
All of which is why I keep trying his books even though (so far) they haven't really appealed to me.
I really liked this one until the end. It's slow pace and meandering story were interesting and amusing. But the wrap up of all the stories, especially of the minor mysterious goings on, was entirely disappointing and left me let down.

Aug 25, 2014

***** stars. In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner bound for England. At mealtimes, he is placed at the lowly ?Cat's Table? with an eccentric group of grown-ups 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 become involved in the worlds and stories of the adults around them, tumbling from one adventure and delicious discovery to another. And at night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner ? his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever.
As the narrative moves from the decks and holds of the ship and the boy?s adult years, it tells a spellbinding story about the difference between the magical openness of childhood and the burdens of earned understanding ? about a life-long journey that began unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage, when all on board were ?free of the realities of the earth?.
With the ocean liner a brilliant microcosm for the floating dream of childhood, The Cat?s Table is a vivid, poignant and thrilling book, full of Ondaatje?s trademark set-pieces and breathtaking images: a story told with a child?s sense of wonder by a novelist at the very height of his powers. ****** I enjoyed this book tremendously. Mr. Ondaatje has a wonderful, almost magical voice. He is able to project himself into the mind of young Michael and the bravery of youthful innocence. I listened to this book read by the author which I highly recommend!!

Aug 15, 2012

Once again, I just can't judge properly when listening to a book. Ondaatje's prose is beautiful and his voice is lyrical, but I wasn't compelled in the way that reading captures me. That said, it's a lovely meandering story of one boy's coming of age. I might have to pick up the book.

Cdnbookworm Nov 21, 2011

This is a lovely story, based on Ondaatje's own experience as a child travelling from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) to England. The three-week journey has the young boy Michael sitting at the table farthest from the captain's table, known as the cat's table. Also sitting there are two other young boys, and some other interesting passengers. Michael describes the experiences of the journey, his relationships with the other two boys, his cousin Emily (who is also on board), and various other adults. The story includes not only the experiences of the 11-year-old boy, travelling on his own such a great distance, but also his reflections on them, his later analysis of the different interactions, and his life as a result of them.
Ondaatje's voice is wonderful, but it took me a while to get used to it. I listen to books in the car as I have a long commute and his sibilant voice sometimes wasn't clear over the road and car noise. Once I adjusted, I was mesmerized by the voice. Although this is billed as a novel, one can't help but wonder just how much of the story was taken from Ondaatje's real life experience. This story is engaging, surprising and one that will stay with you.

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