April 04, 2012

The Translation of the Bones - Francesca Kay

The Translation of the Bones is one of the long listed books for the 2012 Orange Prize and another example of this prize introducing me to a fabulous author.
The Translation of the Bones focuses on a small part of the community of the Church of the Sacred Heart in Battersea in the time leading up to Easter. The book opens with one of the parish members, Mrs Alice Armitage, going through her weekly cleaning routine of the church:

It's beyond belief what you find between the pews, Mrs Armitage was saying. Coins and gloves you might expect, but socks and underwear? Hairclips, buttons, handkerchiefs, and now look at these, these perculiar white pills. She held out her hand to Father Diamond, who looked at it carefully and shook his head.

We are also introduced to other members of the church, Stella Morrison, as she contributes her weekly offering by bringing in and arranging fresh flowers and then Mary-Margaret O'Reilly, a young woman with a developmental delay who is fixated on lovingly cleaning and caring for a statue of Jesus when she falls from a ladder and injures herself. The injury to Mary-Margaret sets off a chain of events and even though the start of the book is gentle and unassuming in so many ways Kay builds the tension and the storyline perfectly. I felt real connection to these characters and their stories - each character is given their own air space that does not seem to detract from the other storylines and I felt the climax and ending of the novel were written beautifully. I rarely cry when reading novels but there were definite tears in my eyes at the end of the this one.


Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I agree, this book moved me to tears as well as I felt so connected to the characters. Father Diamond's questioning of his faith was very well done I thought.

nomadreader said...

I wasn't nearly as moved by this one as you were. I'm glad you had such an emotional reaction to it, however.

Karen said...

Hi Sam - I thought the innner workings of all of the characters was really well done - just a wonderful book.

Hi nomadreader - sorry to hear this one didn't work for you!

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