Friday, 27 February 2015

Frances Itani

This book was recommended to me and I was happy to read another book by Frances Itani.
"Remembering the Bones" is about an 80-year-old woman who had been born the same day as Queen Elizabeth, so she was invited to Buckingham Palace for an 80th birthday celebration.
Georgina Danforth Witley is an independent, fascinating woman who decides to drive herself to the airport.  Her car goes off the road and she spends the rest of the book in a ravine, reviewing her life and doing mind exercises in order to survive until she is discovered.
It was apparent very early in the novel that "Georgie" was not going to be able to celebrate with the queen.  That made me very sad and perhaps made the book less enjoyable for me. Georgie felt so connected to the queen and would have loved to see her in person.
But the best part of this plot is that you really get to see Georgie's character as her thoughts wander from family members to the discipline of reciting the bones of the body.
Georgie had some great role models in her family and I really enjoyed her reminiscences.

Frances Itani began her career as a nurse- teaching and practicing for 8 years before she began to write.  She has written 13 books- poetry, fiction and children's books.  She lives in Ottawa.

I have read "Deafening" twice - first in 2004.  It is a wonderful World War One story, inspired by the experiences of the author's grandmother.
At the age of five, Grania O' Neill lost her hearing from a bout of scarlet fever.  She was born in Deseronto, Ontario in 1896.  Her father owned a hotel where her mother and grandmother (Mamo) worked.
At 9, Grania was sent to Belleville to the School for the Deaf.  She cried for two weeks straight.  One morning she decided she was finished with crying.  "She flattened her unhappiness the way she and Tress once pressed leaves inside Tress' book and placed it high on the closet shelf".
Her sister Tress is an important part of the novel.  Because Grania was afraid at night, Tress made a rope with ties and scarves and wrapped one end around her ankle, and Grania wrapped the other end around her ankle and they could communicate between their beds.
Another interesting idea was Mamo took Grania to the lake with the clock bag full of old broken dishes and they threw them at rocks: "When things got bad".
Grania married Jim Lloyd who went to war shortly after they married.  There is a detailed description of W.W. I.  Tress' husband came home wounded and withdrawn.  The theme of sound and slience is beautiful.  I loved this book!

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