Wednesday 5 January 2011

Remembering the Bones by Frances Itani

Published by Phyllis Bruce an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers and HarperCollins Publishers Canada

Georgina Danforth Witley is looking forward to her birthday this year, more than any other. Born on April 21st 1926 - the exact same day as Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II - she is among 99 commonwealth subjects who have been invited to the palace for a birthday luncheon. Georgie is all ready to go. A two hour drive will take her to the airport where she will board her flight to England. Her daughter has primed her for the traveling. Her suitcase well packed, valuables in her purse close by, and beside her on the seat, a bright orange package bearing a gift from her daughter, something she can only open once she is safely on the plane traveling over the water.

You know what they say though: Life is what happens when we are busy making plans. A split second lapse in judgement finds Georgie and her car thrown from the road and into the ravine that borders her street. So near to home, helpless, and filled with horror at the realization that no one will look for her anytime soon, she tries to distract herself and fight through the pain that is pouring from her broken body and in doing so, finds her thoughts returning to times past.

This book was an absolute joy to read. Written in a first person style, the reader is invited to join Georgie as - faced with death - she travels back through the important moments in her life. These moments are filled with a colourful mix of characters who seem to leap from the page as we accompany them through life and witness the journey that has helped shape Georgie into the strong, independent, intelligent woman we see today.

With such a tragic life behind her, it's not difficult to understand how Georgie, although panicked inside, can exude total calm even in her darkest hours. I found myself longing for her moment of salvation from the bottom of the ravine, while simultaneously dreading that same moment as it would mean the end of the intimate bond between character and reader that could only remain in such solitary conditions. I felt so bound to the main character in such a short time and have to admire the author for such skillful storytelling. By the end of the book, when it came time to leave Georgie's tale behind me, I was filled with a sense of sorrow. This wasn't a character I was saying farewell to, it was a close and dear friend.

A truly beautiful book that will remain on my bookshelf for many years to come and will doubtless be accompanied at some point in the near future by a copy of Gray's Anatomy.

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