Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bone China by Roma Tearne

Bone China follows the four generations of the de Silva family from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) to London, England. One by one they realize that their homeland is much too dangerous and they must escape the lawlessness and corruption. First, a few of the sons move, then others follow. Settling down, fitting it and getting used to the cold is not as easy as they hoped. Assimilation and the tragedies they face slowly take their toll as the characters keep their secrets, commit their errors and try to begin again.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Tearne's a superb writer and a wonderful storyteller. The novel is rich in details about the time period and the area. I found the social aspects of country's fight for political independence from Britain particularly intriguing. I really don't know that much about Sri Lanka, but Tearne teaches me a little more each time I read one of her books.

The characters in this book were plentiful, varied and flawed. I cared about them, worried about them and often thought of them when I wasn't reading. My favourite character was Grace, the matriarch. She had to deal with her children and her drunkard husband, Aloysius. While she loved her family and did what she could to save them, she also took care of herself and her own needs. I really liked reading about Jasper, the talking mynah bird. He offered some comic relief to the story. Well, at first anyway. He goes from all-knowing and all-seeing to being totally confused about what was going on. Myrtle, Grace's cousin and live-in help, was also interesting because she was not well liked and liked no one. Her vengeful diary entries punctuate the story and add little tidbits of information about the characters.

The title of the book comes from the bone china that Grace collected and cherished. For me, the bone china, which is referenced many times throughout the book, ties the story together and acts as a symbol of family, generations and home. I think it reminded the family of all they have gained and all they have lost.

New word alert:
harridan = an insult - an offensive term for a woman that deliberately insults her age as advanced and her temperament as assertive.

Favourite quotes:
He was well aware that his wife was corseted in good manners, bound up by good breeding, wrapped in the glow of a more elegant world than the one he had been brought up in.

Why couldn't the silly bugger stop sniggering like a smutty schoolboy?

She [Savitha] could stretch a single complaint into a thesis.

I've also read Tearne's first book, Mosquito (my review.) You can tell by my review that I loved it, too.

Highly recommended. I'd definitely read another book by Roma Tearne.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.

For more information about the author, her other books and other endeavours, please visit Roma Tearne's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins Canada for this review copy.

Bone China by Roma Tearne, HarperCollins, ©2008. ISBN 9781554684168(Trade Paperback), 400p.

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds right up my alley! Thanks for the review!


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