Frances Itani: Remembering the Bones

<p><img width="240" vspace="10" hspace="10" height="240" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/41LrlO2J-tL__AA240_.jpg" alt="&quot;&quot;&quot;&quot;" /><i>Hannah Davies writes:</i><br />
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Loving accessible literary fiction as I do, the latest offering from Frances Itani, the Canadian author of <i>Deafening</i>, winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, was an obvious choice. But on reading the blurb of <i>Remembering the Bones</i> (Sceptre, February) I was not entirely convinced of the likelihood of me relating to the plight of Canadian royalist Georgina Danforth Witley on her journey to Buckingham Palace to share her 80th birthday with the Queen. This was particularly the case as it looked likely that Georgie would spend chapter after chapter dismally reflecting on her life as she struggled to survive at the bottom of a ravine, following a car accident which sent her tumbling off the road as she made her way to the airport.<br />
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However, having spent Sunday afternoon curled up in bed (it was cold in my flat), completely gripped and willing Georgie to be rescued, I take it all back. A potentially dreary tale is transformed through a clever intermingling of Georgie's current injured state with all that has happened in her past, bizarrely enough through the naming of each section of the book after various bones. In a bid to keep her mind active as she fights for life, Georgie recites the names of all the bones in her body, which also take the reader back through her life. The chapter &quot;Ribs&quot; brings up the many memories of her husband (who often broke his ribs), &quot;Septum&quot; recalls the man with the broken nose she encountered on her dramatic honeymoon and &quot;Sternum&quot; relates to the sad tale of her lost son. <br />
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Itani's wonderfully descriptive language, particularly of all that happens deep in the ravine, and her knack of understanding the fundamentals of human nature, make you understand what it might be like to be facing death and measuring your life's worth. Thankfully, the slightly morbid theme is balanced with quirky and amusing reflections of a woman who has lived a long and interesting life. Contemplating &quot;the end&quot;, Georgie expresses relief at having finished <i>War and Peace</i>, dismay at having left mouldy cheese in the fridge and amusement that the first person to know she is missing will be the Queen. I'll leave you guessing whether she ever makes it out of the ravine, but most importantly, I have now added Itani's previous book <i>Deafening</i> to my must-read list - a clear indication of my admiration for this unusual novel.</p>