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Remembering the Bones by Frances Itani

Remembering the Bones (2007)

by Frances Itani

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2261373,222 (3.68)30



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English (12)  French (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I loved this less as I kept reading. There are some coincidences that I couldn't quite get past. Still, parts of the novel are really breataking and reminiscent of a favorite book of mine Bonnie Burnard's the Good House. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
a quick and undemanding read but I wasn't grabbed by it, I didn't care if Georgie was found or not and I didn't find her life story to be particularly interesting. ( )
  KarenDuff | Jun 1, 2016 |
My husband can be very astute at times. Whilst reading Frances Itani's Remembering the Bones I was raving about the book and he said, "So you like it the same way you like obituaries then?" Exactly. Nothing to do with death at all, but rather for such a celebration of life. It's The Stone Diaries without the ghost, but also something original, beautiful, gentle and lovely in its own right.

The book begins with Georgina Danforth Witley, 80 years old and on her way to meet the Queen. She has been selected, along with ninety-nine other residents of the Commonwealth who share Queen Elizabeth's birthday, to attend a birthday luncheon at Buckingham Palace. This is an unlikely event in the life of a seemingly ordinary woman. Seemingly, of course; if we've learned anything from obituaries it's that nobody is ordinary. Georgie has a grown daughter, Case, her 103 year old mother still living, fond memories of her eccentric, salt-of-the-earth grandmother, Grand Dan, and the ability to name all of the bones in the human body. These she memorized from her late Grandfather's 1901 edition of Gray's Anatomy. She has talked to Queen Elizabeth, like a friend, for all her life. Georgie had a "polio honeymoon" and she understands why people laugh at funerals. Once she witnessed her husband in an act of love and fell in love with him for all time.

All this she remembers while she is supposed to be lunching with the Queen. On her way to the airport, not far from her own driveway, Georgie loses control of her car and careens between road barriers then crashes down through trees and into a ravine. Broken in the wreckage, unable to move or shout and with nobody aware she is in trouble, Georgie tells the story of her life, from childhood to widowhood, putting the pieces together and struggling to keep her brain active and her attitude positive. Her journey is a struggle to "remember the bones" she once knew so well, name them and thus reconstruct herself, and her life story. Georgie's story was of her most extraordinary ordinary life, and my heart was wrung by the joy and the sadness alike.

What happens to Georgie in the end, I think, is definitely a talking point, with some interesting ambiguity. I would argue, however, that the ending is the least important thing about all of this. Though I devoured this book rather greedily, it was for Georgie's voice and Itani's prose. This narrative is so beautifully constructed the pages fly by like those on a cinematic calendar, whizzing past faster than days go, until you're at the end and you're finished; but what you're left with is a life. ( )
  Booktrovert | Apr 5, 2013 |
July Book Group book. ( )
  medixon | Oct 15, 2012 |
Georgie Danforth Whitley is soon to turn 80, on the same day as Queen Elizabeth. As a member of the Commonwealth, and sharing the Queen's birthdate, she has been invited to England to a birthday celebration. As Georgie leaves her home in eastern Ontario, a moment of inattention leads to her car toppling over into a ravine less than 1.5 miles from her home. Because of her fiercely independent spirit, no one (save for the Queen?) knows that she is missing.

She has been thrown from her car with some pretty significant injuries. While she determines to cope with the situation, we are treated to the story of her life in flash backs. The bones in the title refer to her childhood fascination with Gray's Anatomy from her deceased grandfather's study. And the bones provide the supporting framework (skeleton?) for her story.

In that story we learn much about the strong women of the Danforth family, which is quite matriarchal over the three generations. There are snippets of childhood memorization exercises sprinkled through out the book and will be familiar with readers of a certain era. There is much love, much happiness, and some devastating heartbreak in the story. But if my book group is any indicator, many readers will find the suspense of Georgie's predicament too much to allow them to take in the essence of the life story.

The writing is strong and clearly written with decent, loving, and very humanly flawed characters. Frances Itani knows well the bones of good writing. ( )
3 vote tangledthread | Jul 7, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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.” As in these earlier novels, great events of history are less important, and less revelatory, than moments of private pain.
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Georgie's suitcase is closed and locked, nothing valuable in the outer, zipped pockets, she's been warned.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0871139774, Hardcover)

“Itani’s writing is merely breathtaking.” — Newsday

The new novel from the award-winning author of Deafening is a poignant exploration of one eighty-year-old life, as its heroine lies at the bottom of a ravine where she has crashed en route to visit the queen. Born the same day as Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Canadian Georgina Danforth Witley is one of ninety-nine privileged Commonwealth subjects invited to an eightieth birthday lunch at Buckingham Palace. All she has to do is drive to the airport and board the plane for London. Except that Georgie drives off the road, her car plunging into a thickly wooded ravine. Thrown from the car and unable to move, she must rely on her no-nonsense wit, her full store of family memories, and a recitation of the bones in her body—a childhood exercise that reminds her she is still alive. As Georgina lies helpless, she reflects on her role as a daughter, mother, sister, wife, and widow—on lost loves and painful secrets—offering a whimsical and profound insight into the life of one ordinary woman who, while drawing on her instincts to survive, asks herself: what has it all amounted to?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

While on her way to the airport to attend Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday, Georgina Danforth Witley drives of the edge of the road plunging into a thickly wooded ravine. Thrown from the car and unable to move, Georgina must rely on her strength, memories, wit and a recitation of the names of the bones in her body to stay alive.… (more)

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