Life of Pi


I am on my way back from London and despite my best efforts to read a book I just can’t concentrate. Why? Well firstly because I just finished reading another book a few hours ago and I hate finishing and starting a new book on the same day. Secondly, the book I just finished reading was Life of Pi. It the story of Piscine Molitor Patel (otherwise known as Pi) and his incredible tale of courage, determination and survival.

It is the 1970s, and when Pi’s father takes a strong disliking to the political change in India, he decides to sell his zoo and move the whole family to Canada. A few weeks into the ship journey Pi is awoken by a terrible explosion, and his decision to investigate changes his life forever. Soon Pi is left stranded on a lifeboat with an orang-utan, a zebra with a broken leg and a hyena. Shockingly enough these animals resort to their natural instincts to survive and soon it is just Pi and the hyena left. And then Pi spots Richard Parker…a 3 year old Bengal Tiger. Life of Pi details Pi’s survival on a tiny lifeboat and how he adapted and essentially tamed Richard Parker so the two could live harmoniously until they reached land…227 days later.

I was shocked how engrossed I became in Life of Pi. It has been on my radar for a fair few years and yet I have never felt the urge to read it. The film trailer, and the fact it was only 20p on the kindle might have had something to do with my sudden impulse, but I can honestly say I don’t want to see the film now. This novel has truly left me thinking about life, the unpredictable and often tragic turns it can take. I loved reading about how Pi trained Richard Parker and how the two were not only able to coexist but also how Richard Parker became Pi’s reason for surviving when he felt at his lowest. I am adamant that having a pet enriches one’s life and I’m not saying I would like a tiger but knowing another living thing needs you certainly makes life seem a tad more bearable in darker moments. I knew Pi survived, as the narrative starts in the present, so when he eventually hit dry land I was relieved. There is a beautiful discussion on saying goodbye and ending things and it particularly resonates with current events in my life:

‘it is important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said, but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.’

Reading it has made me slightly more accepting of events and I love it when literature opens your eyes to something that feels like a revelation.

So yes, Pi made it safely to land and I was pleased for him and enjoyed his intriguing tale of triumph.

And then the ending happened!

I did not see the twist in the tale, so god was I shocked. It is this sudden turn of events that has left me spellbound by the novel. I truly don’t want to give spoilers away, but I am off to find someone who has read this amazing book so I can literally talk at them about it. I should have guessed it was coming, but I wanted to stay wrapped up in the lifeboat world of Pi and Richard Parker and the sometimes gruesome, but often heartwarming events they survived together. I did not want a harsh stab of reality. Although it was the reality shock that made this novel for me, so I can’t be too mad at it.