The internationally bestselling, “gorgeously moving, old-fashioned novel” about a woman’s life, loves, and self-discovery on the eve the Great War (O, The Oprah Magazine).
Grania O’Neill, the daughter of hardworking Irish hoteliers in small-town Ontario, is five years old when she emerges from a bout of scarlet fever profoundly deaf—suddenly sealed off from the world that was just beginning to open for her. While her guilt-plagued mother cannot accept it, Grania finds allies in her grandmother and her older sister, Tress. It isn’t until she’s enrolled in the Ontario School for the Deaf in Belleville, that Grania truly begins to thrive. In time, she falls for Jim Lloyd, a hearing man with whom Grania creates a new emotional vocabulary that encompasses both sound and silence.
But just two weeks after their wedding, Jim leaves to serve as a stretcher bearer on the blood-soaked battlefields of Flanders. During this long war of attrition, Jim and Grania’s letters back and forth—both real and imagined—attempt to sustain their young love in a world as brutal as it is hopeful.
Winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Frances Itani’s debut novel is a “brilliantly lucid and masterfully sustained” ode to language—how it can console, imprison, and liberate—with “the integrity of an achieved artistic vision, the kind of power that is generally associated with the gracious, crystalline prose of Grace Paley, the flagrantly good, good lines of Robert Lowell and W. H. Auden’s poetry” (Kaye Gibbons, author of A Virtuous Woman).