In the Skin of a Lion

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In the Skin of a Lion

by Michael Ondaatje

Knopf Canada | June 18, 1996 | Trade Paperback |

3.8947 out of 5 rating. 19 Reviews
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In the Skin of a Lion is a love story and an irresistible mystery set in the turbulent, muscular new world of Toronto in the 20s and 30s. Michael Ondaatje entwines adventure, romance and history, real and invented, enmeshing us in the lives of the immigrants who built the city and those who dreamed it into being: the politically powerful, the anarchists, bridge builders and tunnellers, a vanished millionaire and his mistress, a rescued nun and a thief who leads a charmed life. This is a haunting tale of passion, privilege and biting physical labour, of men and women moved by compassion and driven by the power of dreams -- sometimes even to murder.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 256 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.39 in

Published: June 18, 1996

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0394281829

ISBN - 13: 9780394281827

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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– More About This Product –

In the Skin of a Lion

In the Skin of a Lion

by Michael Ondaatje

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 256 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.39 in

Published: June 18, 1996

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0394281829

ISBN - 13: 9780394281827

Read from the Book

An April night in 1917. Harris and Pomphrey were on the bridge, in the dark wind. Pomphrey had turned west and was suddenly stilled. His hand reached out to touch Harris on the shoulder, a gesture he had never made before. -- Look! Walking on the bridge were five nuns. Past the Dominion Steel castings wind attacked the body directly. The nuns were walking past the first group of workers at the fire. The bus, Harris thought, must have dropped them off near Castle Frank and the nuns had, with some confusion at that hour, walked the wrong way in the darkness. They had passed the black car under the trees and talking cheerfully stepped past the barrier into a landscape they did not know existed -- onto a tentative carpet over the piers, among the night labourers. They saw the fire and the men. A few tried to wave them back. There was a mule attached to a wagon. The hiss and jump of machines made the ground under them lurch. A smell of creosote. One man was washing his face in a barrel of water. The nuns were moving towards a thirty-yard point on the bridge when the wind began to scatter them. They were thrown against the cement mixers and steam shovels, careering from side to side, in danger of going over the edge. Some of the men grabbed and enclosed them, pulling leather straps over their shoulders, but two were still loose. Harris and Pomphrey at the far end looked on helplessly as one nun was lifted up and flung against the compressors. She stood up shakily and then the wind
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From the Publisher

In the Skin of a Lion is a love story and an irresistible mystery set in the turbulent, muscular new world of Toronto in the 20s and 30s. Michael Ondaatje entwines adventure, romance and history, real and invented, enmeshing us in the lives of the immigrants who built the city and those who dreamed it into being: the politically powerful, the anarchists, bridge builders and tunnellers, a vanished millionaire and his mistress, a rescued nun and a thief who leads a charmed life. This is a haunting tale of passion, privilege and biting physical labour, of men and women moved by compassion and driven by the power of dreams -- sometimes even to murder.

About the Author

Author of eleven books of poetry, four novels and a fictionalized memoir, Michael Ondaatje was born in 1943 in Colombo, capital of the British colony of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Of Tamil, Sinhalese and Dutch descent, he was the youngest of four children. He grew up during the halcyon days of colonial Ceylon on the Kutapitiya tea estate, “the most beautiful place in the world,” as he described in an interview with The Guardian . His mother’s real gift to Michael was her enthusiasm for the arts. Of his father, who served in the Ceylon light infantry, Ondaatje has said: “My father was in tea and alcohol; he dealt in tea and he drank the alcohol.” He died of a brain hemorrhage after Michael had left Sri Lanka, so Michael never got to know his father as an adult. “He is still one of those books we long to read whose pages remain uncut. He was a sad and mercurial figure. There was a lot I didn’t know about him … In all my books there are mysteries that are not fully told.” When Michael was five his parents separated. His mother soon went to England with two of her children; Michael stayed behind and lived with relatives, joining his mother and siblings at the age of eleven. He relinquished his sarong and donned a tie – an item of clothing he’d never seen before – to attend Dulwich College, whose alumni include writers Graham Swift, P. G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler. (One of Michael’s former teachers exp
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From Our Editors

They were anarchists, millionaires, construction workers and clergy. One helped build the Bloor Street Viaduct. Another, a thief, led a charmed life. Still another was rescued from certain death. They created Toronto and the city shaped them. Michael Ondaatje combines adventure and romance, history and murder in a masterful tale of the immigrant experience.

Editorial Reviews

"A triumph -- a powerful and revelatory accomplishment."
--The Times Literary Supplement

"Splendidly evocative and entertaining."
--The Toronto Star

"A brilliantly imaginative blend of history, lore, passion and poetry."
--Russell Banks

"What is most moving is the human connectedness of this book… so densly erotic, so subtly sensual, so intensely responsive."
--Malahat Review

"Ondaatje has written into the vivid life of fiction a part of the history of the building of Toronto as no official history would have conceived it and as no official history can now erase it."
--Adele Wiseman

"In the Skin of a Lion is an act of magic!"
--Alberto Manguel

"Beautiful … I urge you to read this book."
--The New York Times
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