Finalist for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize
The bestselling author of the award-winning international sensation Deafening returns to the period following the First World War with a tour de force--an extraordinary novel of secrets withheld and secrets revealed.
In 1919, only months after the end of the Great War, 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 the town from an unknown place in war-torn Europe. While rehearsing and performing, Maggie rediscovers a part of herself that she had long set aside. As the decade draws to a close and the lives of these beautifully-drawn characters become more entwined, each of them must decide what to share and what to hide, and how their actions will lead them into the future.
With the narrative power and writerly grace for which she is celebrated, Frances Itani has crafted a deeply moving, emotionally rich story about the burdens of the past. She shows us how, ultimately, the very secrets we bury to protect ourselves can also be the cause of our undoing. Tell is stunning achievement.
This heartening novel from Itani (Deafening) concerns the different tribulations of two households forced to grapple with in the aftermath of World War I. A maimed infantryman having recuperated from his injuries, Kenan Oak returns to his rural hometown of Deseronto, Ontario. He still suffers probably from what is today diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder, and becomes a housebound recluse while his beleaguered wife, Tress, works in her parents hotel kitchen. Although he picks up side work as a bookkeeper, he laments their unhappy, childless marriage. However, all hope isn t lost in this tale of recovery: Kenan renews his boyhood passion for ice skating and corresponds with his old army friend Hugh recuperating from tuberculosis in Britain. Kenan is only able to confide in Tress s middle-aged uncle Am O Neil, an ex-farmer and now apartment maintenance man, who copes with his own strained marriage to Maggie. She works at the library and leans on her friend Zel Jackson for her support. Blessed with a wonderful soprano voice, Maggie loves singing in the choral society directed by the charismatic Lukas Sebastian who, unlike Am, is able to communicate with her. Their romantic affair sets in motion the complications that impact the Oak and O Neil families. Their lives soon take several life-changing turns in Itani s sensitive, well-written novel, full of a cast of strong characters.