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Remembering the Bones: A Novel Hardcover – December 21, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; 1st Printing edition (December 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139771
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,160,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A macabre setup makes for a surprisingly moving read in Canadian writer Itani's second novel to be published in the U.S. (after Deafening). Ottawa born and bred octogenarian Georgie Danforth Whitley has always noted similarities—including their birth dates—between herself and Queen Elizabeth, whom she privately imagines as Lilibet, a kind of parallel life-mate. A serendipitous invitation to enjoy a birthday lunch with the queen in London gives Georgie a rare opportunity to experience independence from her 103-year-old mother and her 50-something daughter. However, a momentary distraction on the drive to the airport ends with Georgie's car falling to the bottom of a ravine—with no one, except maybe Lilibet, knowing she is missing. Minutes turn into days with a wounded Georgie flashing back to pivotal (and not-so-pivotal) moments in her past as she attempts to crawl to her car. The narrative gathers momentum as Georgie's plight becomes increasingly dire and she searches through her catalogue of memories for a measure of her life's worth. The ending, with its potential for melodrama, is expertly played; throughout, Itani handles her tension-fraught material with a precise, light touch. (Jan.)
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Review

"In unpretentious, quietly penetrating prose, Itani exposes the richness and depth beneath the surface of one ordinary life." -- The New Yorker

"With this book, Itani joins a group of novelists who have chronicled quiet lives from start to finish, uncovering treasure in their dark corners: Carol Shields with The Stone Diaries, Marilynne Robinson with Gilead . . . Apparently small moments assume lyrical dimensions and significance, and here is where Itani's true gift lies. . . . [Itani] dips into the past to illuminate the present moment, building such emotional complexity that the novel's ending--both inevitable and surprising--is as subtle as it is wrenching." -- The New York Times Book Review

"Similiarly to Alice Munro, Itani eschews pyrotechnics of language in favor of building psychologically toward realization. . . . Itani treats her memorable characters with gentle humor and compassion; in Remembering the Bones, people ache to do their best in a physically and emotionally dangerous world. . . . Beautifully paced . . . [this novel] is, in its every moment, an argument for life." -- The Globe & Mail

"[An] exquisite new novel . . . Itani is a spectacularly sensitive writer, and I could not put this book down, except for the moments when tears clouded my vision. . . . What lifts the book into the realm of the truly special is Itani's remarkable language. . . . Remembering the Bones is a novel not to be missed." -- The Edmonton Journal

"[Itani] crafts a beautiful novel filled with unbearable tension. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey T. Atwood on December 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Frances Itani brings to the surface a woman's full life. This book reminded me of Katherine Anne Porter's short story "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall". The heroine, stranded and injured, lets us join her while she recollects the highs and lows of her long life, beautifully and movingly portrayed.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A. Braun on March 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Poor Georgie Whitley. She's lying at the bottom of a ravine, having backed off into it while leaving her house for the airport. This isn't a spoiler; it happens in the first few pages. And the rest is brilliant. This is one of the finest books I've read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. You will laugh, and I expect you will cry, and you will miss Georgie terribly when you must come to the end of a book. Whatever Georgie's outcome, it occurs to me that finishing a book is like a little death. You can re-read something, but it will never be new to you again, and if you have been as absorbed by it as I was by this one, you will grieve a little. Buy "Remembering the Bones." Now.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Linda on July 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Georgina (Georgie) who is 80 years old, and shares her birthday with the Queen, is one of the 99 privileged Commonwealth subjects who have been invited to Buckingham Palace for lunch. Georgie lives in Canada and has, all her life, felt close to Lilibet and has been looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Telling her family she can take perfect care of herself, and not to worry, and not to expect her to call them til she returns, Georgie sets off for the airport. En route, however, she has a car accident and ends up down the bottom of a ravine, not too far from her home. But no one knows what has happened. Flung from the car, with a broken leg and arm, ribs, and who knows what else, Georgie has to rely on mind over matter to keep herself alive. She talks to us, she tells us of her life as a child with her sister, mother, aunt and grandparents and a father who was too entrenched in his own life to notice his daughters; she tells us of her own marriage, its sorrows and its joys. She talks to Lilibet, reminding us that only the Queen will be missing her right now. She laughs, she cries, as she celebrates the lives of all those she has loved.

This is a powerfully reflective book, addressing the biggest question of them all, `what is my life worth'? The author keeps a tension between the past, the present and the question-mark of Georgie's future which hangs so precariously in the balance.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Beverley Strong on June 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
80 year old Georgina Witley has been invited by the Queen, with whom she shares a birthday, to join her and other invitees from around the Commonwealth, at a special luncheon at Buckingham Palace. Having declined an offer by her daughter to drive her to the airport to fly from Canada to Britain, she loses control of her car, just close to her home and lands, relatively unhurt at the bottom of a ravine. Unable to do more than wiggle an arm and one leg, and realising that people think her to be in the UK, she resigns herself to the fact that she is unlikely to be rescued at any time soon, and fills in the time by reliving her life from the beginning, and what a life it has been. I really related to a lot of the aspects of this story and highly recommend it as a superb read which will strike chords with many people.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn Evans on February 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book and fast read--the author takes you from the present time of an 80-yr.old woman stuck in a ravine from a car wreck while heading to the airport to go to London for the Queen's 80's birthday--the same day as hers!

The author moves from the present to the past in a smooth transition, giving you glimpses of this trapped lady's life--an excellent read all the way to the end. Try it; you'll like it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Toby J. Galinkin on April 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Here is a truly elegant novel..a very captivating story of one woman's life whilst she lays on the cold hard ground after her car catapults down a ravine. SImple prose, simple story yet very moving..very well written with more attention to emotion rather than description. Lovely story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Lehmann on May 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is book to read when others are not distracting you. The old woman's memories and reflections on her life while trapped in a ravine forces you to consider what is really important in your own life and how seemingly small incidents can become very meaningful. While, the book explores relationhips between many generations, the profound influences of childhood experiences, and the relationships associated within marriage (work, illness, partner's family, children, death), its power for me was the way these intersected in the trapped woman's conciousness. A powerful book that leaves you feeling both that you understand the woman and that you hardly know her: an echo of many, if not most, relationships and one of the many themes of Itani's novel.

I picked this up accidentally while loading up with books at a library sale to take with me for a year in the Caribbean. I will certainly make sure I read Itani's other work
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Format: Paperback
Books like this made me regret doing a degree in English Lit. Apparently, the more boring you can make your novel, the more praise you'll receive for having written it. Not every book I read for school was a torture device and a snoozefest like this one, but I do notice it seems to be more prevalent among Canadian fiction than the fiction of any other country-- and this one here is 100% Canuck, keeping the tradition alive.

A boring women has a car accident and recounts her boring life as she lays waiting for a rescue that may or may not come. Not content to die due to exposure, injuries, or lack of fluids, she proceeds to try her hand at boring herself to death-- and if you'd read her thoughts you'd know she has every chance of succeeding. So glad to be done with this book.
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