The Company We Keep

The Company We Keep

Frances Itani

Historical / Historical Fiction / Fiction

On Tuesday nights in the backroom of Cassie's café, six strangers seek solace and find themselves part of a "Company of Good Cheer" Hazzley is at loose ends, even three years after the death of her husband. When her longtime friend Cassandra, café owner and occasional dance-class partner, suggests that she start up a conversation group, Hazzley posts a notice on the community board at the local grocery store. Four people turn up for the first meeting: Gwen, a recently widowed retiree in her early sixties, who finds herself pet-sitting a cantankerous parrot; Chiyo, a forty-year-old fitness instructor who cared for her unyielding but gossip-loving mother through the final days of her life; Addie, a woman pre-emptively grieving a close friend who is seriously ill; and Tom, an antiques dealer and amateur poet who, deprived of home baking since becoming a widower, comes to the first meeting hoping cake will be served. Before long, they are joined by...
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Poached Egg on Toast

Poached Egg on Toast

Frances Itani

Historical / Historical Fiction / Fiction

Frances Itani returns to her roots with a collection of over 20 remarkable short stories. Showcasing the range and depth of her work, these include selections from her previous three collections, as well as seven new stories. In the award-winning title story, " Poached Egg on Toast," a small domestic drama balloons into a defining moment in a long-time marriage. " Accident" holds its dream-like spell over the reader as a woman struggles to make sense of what happened to her and her husband in a terrible car wreck. " In the Name of Love" explores a woman's search for normalcy and connection in the midst of devastation during the 1990s Balkan War. A number of these stories showcase Itani's ability to shine a clear light on what it feels like to be an outsider, displaced and disconnected from the world at hand. Others are about family life, the crises we must all face, and how a single, small moment can cause a seismic shift in our emotional landscape. Wickedly funny and...
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Tell

Tell

Frances Itani

Historical / Historical Fiction / Fiction

The bestselling author of the award-winning international sensation Deafening returns to the period following the First Great War with a tour de force -- an extraordinary novel of secrets withheld and secrets revealed. In 1919, only months after the end of World War One, the men and women of Deseronto struggle to recover from wounds of the past, both visible and hidden. Kenan, a young soldier who has returned from the war damaged and disfigured, confines himself to his small house on the Bay of Quinte, wandering outside only under the cover of night. His wife, Tress, attempting to adjust to the trauma that overwhelms her husband and which has changed their marriage, seeks advice from her Aunt Maggie. Maggie, along with her husband, Am, who cares for the town clock tower, have their own sorrows, which lie unacknowledged between them. Maggie finds joy in her friendship with a local widow and in the Choral Society started by Lukas, a Music Director who has moved to...
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Remembering the Bones

Remembering the Bones

Frances Itani

Historical / Historical Fiction / Fiction

Georgina Danforth Witley shares her birthday— April 21, 1926— with Queen Elizabeth II, a coincidence that has led to an invitation to a special 80th-birthday lunch at Buckingham Palace. While she should be on her way to London, Georgie lies injured in a ravine not far from her own house, the result of a car accident en route to the airport. Desperately hopeful that someone will find her, Georgie relies on her strength, her family memories, her no-nonsense wit and a recitation of the names of the bones in her body— a long-forgotten exercise from childhood that reminds her she is still very much alive.Frances Itani brings us a novel that is charming and deeply felt, by turns fanciful and profound. Insightful and beautifully written, Remembering the Bones considers what a life is worth and reminds us that even the most ordinary of lives is extraordinary.
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Listen!

Listen!

Frances Itani

Historical / Historical Fiction / Fiction

Liz invites her sister, Roma, and two friends to dinner. The four women have something in common: they are hearing daughters of deaf parents. Each woman brings an old family picture to the table. Each tells a story about her picture. Roma has always felt alone and different. As a child, she had to "listen and tell." Roma became the listener because her mother could not hear. But by the end of the evening, Roma knows she is not alone. She and the other women learn that growing up with deaf parents has given them rare and special gifts. This novella is a quick and easy read for people on the go.
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Leaning, Leaning Over Water

Leaning, Leaning Over Water

Frances Itani

Historical / Historical Fiction / Fiction

As noted by Quill & Quire, Frances Itani is an award-winning writer. Most recently, she won the Tilden/Saturday Night/CBC Literary Award for two consecutive years; an impressive feat as the stories are submitted to the jurors for evaluation anonymously. Now, Itani expands her control of the short story medium, with her new novel, Leaning, Leaning Over Water, a series of connected short stories.Almost all the narration is by Trude, the middle child of the King family. She has been told that her position in the family makes her the family collector and teller of stories. The stories she recounts crystallize crucial moments during the life of her family, the people around them, and the social climate of pre-Quiet Revolution Quebec.The stories begin after the father has moved his family to a rural area on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, where he has taken a job painting fleur-de-lis on tin trays in a nearby factory. For the children this means they grow up in delightful wilderness surrounded by people and customs which are completely new, but leaves their English speaking, non-swimming mother in isolation. The family is cut off from much of the world, but there is much of the world around them. They learn of their individuality through the cultural differences they find between themselves and their nearest neighbours, the Roman Catholic family down the way. They learn about sex and despair first hand through the few adults around them. And they are constantly exposed to life and death, and miracles through their constant contact with the river itself.The Ottawa River (the "water" referred to in the title) borders the King family abode and wends its way through every story in the novel -- always rushing past, bringing with it joys and sorrows, its power never to be underestimated, nor taken lightly -- underscoring the frailty of life lived on its banks.
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Missing

Missing

Frances Itani

Historical / Historical Fiction / Fiction

Missing is based on a true story. Luc Caron lives in northern France during World War I. One day, he sees three airplanes fighting in the sky. Luc watches in horror as a plane flips over and the pilot falls to his death. Luc is the only witness.The Greenwoods own an apple farm in Canada. Their son, a pilot, has been missing for 11 years. in 1928, they receive a package from England. The package contains a letter and three objects found at the site of a plane crash.How is the mystery of the missing pilot solved, bringing peace to Luc and to the pilot's parents? This book is a quick and easy read for people on the go.
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That's My Baby

That's My Baby

Frances Itani

Historical / Historical Fiction / Fiction

A new Deseronto novel from the internationally bestselling author of Tell and DeafeningAt the end of Frances Itani's Scotiabank Giller Prize—shortlisted Tell, a baby is adopted by a young Deseronto couple who are coming to terms with the end of the Great War. Eighteen years on, the baby, Hanora, now a young woman, is told about her adoption. As a second world war looms, Hanora is determined to uncover the mysteries of her identity. This quest will take her across the ocean with her cousin, Billie, and headlong into the tumult of Europe. Amid the tensions, the great dance halls of the era beckon, and a career as a journalist in the war becomes possible. But Hanora will not let the past lie, even though, decades later, the truth remains beyond her grasp. Billie, whose memory is fading as she slips into dementia, provides some clues, but it isn't until Hanora discovers a set of diaries written by a late local artist and what they reveal about her...
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Deafening

Deafening

Frances Itani

Historical / Historical Fiction / Fiction

Frances Itani's lauded and award-winning American debut novel has been sold in sixteen countries, was a Canadian best seller for sixteen weeks, reaching #1, and has been awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best Book Award for the Caribbean and Canadian Region. Set on the eve of the Great War, Deafening is a tale of remarkable virtuosity and power. At the age of five, Grania emerges from a bout of scarlet fever profoundly deaf, and is suddenly sealed off from the world that was just beginning to open for her. Sent to the Ontario School for the Deaf, Grania must learn to live away from her family. When Grania falls in love with Jim Lloyd, a young hearing man, her life seems complete, but WWI soon tears them apart when Jim is sent to the battlefields of Flanders. During this long and brutal war of attrition, Jim and Grania's letters back and forth-both real and imagined-attempt to sustain the intimacy they discovered in Canada. A magnificent tale of love and war, Deafening is also an ode to language-how it can console, imprison, and liberate, and how it alone can bridge vast chasms of geography and experience.Amazon.com ReviewIn Deafening, Canadian writer Frances Itani's American debut novel, she tells two parallel stories: a man's story of war and a woman's story of waiting for him and of what it is to be deaf. Grania O'Neill is left with no hearing after having scarlet fever when she is five. She is taught at home until she is nine and then sent to the Ontario Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, where lifelong friendships are forged, her career as a nurse is chosen, and she meets Jim Lloyd, a hearing man, with whom she falls in love.The novel is filled with sounds and their absence, with an understanding of and insistence on the power of language, and with the necessity of telling and re-telling our stories. When Grania is a little girl at home, she sits with her grandmother, who teaches her: "Grania is intimately aware of Mamo's lips--soft and careful but never slowed. She studies the word as it falls. She says 'C' and shore, over and over again… This is how it sounds." After she and Jim are married and he is sent to war, he writes: "At times the ground shudders beneath our boots. The air vibrates. Sometimes there is a whistling noise before an explosion. And then, all is silent." When Grania's brother-in-law, her childhood friend, Kenan, returns from war seriously injured, he will not utter a sound. Grania approaches him carefully, starting with a word from their childhood--"poom"--and moves through "the drills she thought she'd forgotten… Kenan made sounds. In three weeks he was rhyming nonsense syllables." A deaf woman teaching a hearing man to make sounds again is only one of the wonders in this book. Because Itani's command of her material is complete, the story is saved from being another classic wartime romance--a sad tale of lovers separated. It is a testament to the belief that language is stronger than separation, fear, illness, trauma and even death. Itani convinces us that it is what connects us, what makes us human. --Valerie RyanFrom Publishers WeeklyWar and deafness are the twin themes of this psychologically rich, impeccably crafted debut novel set during WWI. Born in the late 19th century, Grania O'Neill comes from solid middle-class stock, her father a hotel owner in Deseronto, Ontario, her mother a God-fearing daughter of an Irish immigrant. When Grania is five, she loses her hearing to scarlet fever. When she is nine, she is sent to the Ontario Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in Belleville and given an education not only in lipreading, signing and speaking but also in emotional self-sufficiency. After graduating, she works as a nurse in the Belleville hospital, where she meets and falls in love with Jim Lloyd. They marry, but Jim is bound for the war as a stretcher bearer. His war is hell on earth: lurid wounds; stinks; sudden, endless slaughter redeemed only by comradeship. Itani's remarkably vivid, unflinching descriptions of his ordeal tend to overshadow Grania's musings on the home front, but Grania's story comes to the fore again when her brother-in-law and childhood friend, Kenan, comes back to Deseronto from the trenches in Europe with a dead arm and a half-smashed face, refusing to speak. Grania, who was educated to configure sounds she couldn't hear into words that "the hearing" could understand, brings Kenan back to life by teaching him sounds again, and then by making portraits of the people in the town whom she, Kenan and her sister Tress know in common. As she talks to Kenan, she reinvigorates him with a sense that his life, having had such a rich past, must have a future, too. This subplot eloquently expresses Itani's evident, pervasive faith in the unexpected power of story to not only represent life but to enact itself within lives. Her wonderfully felt novel is a timely reminder of war's cost, told from an unexpected perspective.Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Requiem

Requiem

Frances Itani

Historical / Historical Fiction / Fiction

“Remarkable . . . Requiem delicately probes the complex adjustments we make to live with our sorrows. . . . [A] perfectly modulated novel.”—*The Washington Post*An extraordinary researcher and scholar of detail, Frances Itani—author of the best-selling novel Deafening—excels at weaving breathtaking fiction from true-life events. In her new novel, she traces the lives, loves, and secrets in one Japanese-Canadian family during and after their internment in the 1940s.In 1942, in retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Canadian government removed Bin Okuma’s family from their home on British Columbia’s west coast and forced them into internment camps. They were allowed to take only the possessions they could carry, and Bin, as a young boy, was forced to watch neighbors raid his family’s home before the transport boats even undocked. One hundred miles from the “Protected Zone,” they had to form new makeshift communities without direct access to electricity, plumbing, or food—for five years.Fifty years later, after his wife’s sudden death, Bin travels across Canada to find the biological father who has been lost to him. Both running from grief and driving straight toward it, Bin must ask himself whether he truly wants to find First Father, the man who made a fateful decision that almost destroyed his family all those years ago. With his wife’s persuasive voice in his head and the echo of their love in his heart, Bin embarks on an unforgettable journey into his past that will throw light on a dark time in history.Review"Remarkable . . . Understated . . . Requiem delicately probes the complex adjustments we make to live with our sorrows. . . . In this perfectly modulated novel, we see the emotional cost of suppression."—The Washington Post"Itani writes with a delicate grasp of both the obvious and the unspoken, using ordinary words charged with extraordinary meaning to produce a serious book that nevertheless invites you to keep reading past midnight."—BookPage"In Requiem, Frances Itani is at the height of her powers. . . . The Japanese-Canadian story has never been told with such passion, insight and telling detail. . . . Itani has told this story in amazing, cinematic detail. . . . [Requiem] is surely Itani’s greatest novel, although calling Requiem a novel does not do it justice. Requiem is a great work of literature from a determined author at the peak of her powers. It is also a sobering history lesson for all those Canadians who belittle other countries for their racism but are too smug and too blind to examine their own nation’s transgressions."—The Ottawa Citizen"With Requiem, Itani has written an important and moving novel . . . told with painful and quiet eloquence."—Washington Independent Book Review“Itani is an accomplished stylist; her prose is lyrical yet clear, her pace unhurried. . . . Itani’s empathy and understanding of human nature enliven her characters. . . . In this finely written, reflective novel, Bin’s physical journey and mindful recollections lead him to a place where he can choose to either hold onto his anger or make peace with his ghosts.”—The Globe and Mail"An undeniably respectful and moving homage to a shameful factual episode."—Kirkus Reviews"Beautifully rendered . . . Both tribute and a wail of grief . . . Lyrical and undulating, Requiem rages too."—Telegraph-Journal"An evocative and cinematic tale . . . Poignantly, the story's determined brush strokes speak of quiet perseverance, underscoring the sense of loss, of talent suspended. . . . With a precise, elegant style Itani avoids the maudlin, and delivers a taut novel."—Maclean's"A beautiful, slow, meandering read that explores the past of Japanese Canadians in a particularly resonant way."—The Globe and Mail (Favorite Book of the Year)About the AuthorFrances Itani is the author of two other novels: the bestselling Deafening, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Canada and Caribbean Region) and the Drummer General’s Award, and shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and Remembering the Bones, shortlisted for a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. She has also written two collections of short fiction: Leaning, Leaning Over Water and Poached Egg on Toast.
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