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Deafening

Frances Itani

8 Reviews

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Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Historical fiction

Set on the eve of the Great War, a first novel of remarkable virtuosity and power for anyone who loved ATONEMENT, BIRDSONG or the REGENERATION Trilogy.

Born on the shores of Lake Ontario, Grania O Neill suffers a childhood illness that destroys her hearing. Grania s life without sound is also a life bounded by a powerful family love that tries to protect her from suffering. But when it becomes clear that Grania can no longer thrive among the hearing, her family sends her to the Ontario School for the Deaf. There, protected from the often unforgiving world outside, she learns sign language and speech. And there she meets Jim Lloyd, a hearing man, and the two, in wonderment, begin to create a new emotional vocabulary that encompasses both sound and silence.

But a war is raging on the other side of the world. Only two weeks after their wedding, Jim must leave home to serve as a stretcher-bearer on the blood-soaked battlefields of Flanders. During this long and brutal war of attrition, Jim and Grania are pulled to the centre of cataclysmic events that will alter civilisation forever.

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Praise for Deafening

  • 'DEAFENING has a very particular grace and eloquence, and the spareness of the writing beautifully complements the power of the emotions which Frances Itani describes.' - Helen Dunmore

  • 'DEAFENING is a remarkable and absorbing first novel. Itani's writing is clear-headed and sure-handed; her strong characters will not leave you.' - Charles Frazier

  • War and deafness are the twin themes of this psychologically rich, impeccably crafted debut novel set during WWI . . . Wonderfully felt novel is a timely reminder of war's cost, told from an unexpected perspective. Forecast: Itani's first novel is reminiscent of Pat Barker's REGENERATION trilogy' - Publishers Weekly

  • 'This is a psychologically rich, deeply atmospheric and exquisitely told story.' - - Woman & Home

  • 'The subtlety of Itani's writing is nothing short of remarkable . . . her voice is pitch perfect . . . Itani is unquestionably a prodigious talent' - - Toronto Star

  • 'An impressively daring first novel from Canada immerses us in both the world of the deaf and the world of WWI trench warfare . . . Husband and wife embody Itani's theme; the power and reach of love - love that falters only in the face of the unknowable. Itani never loses control of her tricky material: the result is an artistic triumph' - - Kirkus Reviews

  • Itani's evocation of Grania's world of silence, and the myriad ways we communicate with those we love, is masterly, as is her rendition of hell in the Flanders mud. Despite the dark subject matter, this is a book filled with light. - Guardian

  • War and deafness are the twin themes of this psychologically rich, impeccably crafted debut novel set during WWI . . . Wonderfully felt novel is a timely reminder of war's cost, told from an unexpected perspective. Forecast: Itani's first novel is reminiscent of Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy' - - Publishers Weekly

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Frances Itani

Frances Itani is the award-winning author of four acclaimed short story collections and three poetry collections. She has also written a children's book, and was poetry editor of Canadian Forum for several years. She grew up in Quebec, has travelled extensively, and now divides her time between Ottawa and Geneva. Deafening is her first novel.

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