Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review: "Bone China" Roma Tearne

Book Description (from the inside book flap):

"When Grace de Silva's once prominent family loses its vast tea estate, Grace has little idea about how everyone's life in her lush, Eden-like homeland is about to change. Her children dream of escape- Jacob, the eldest, wants desperately to go to England; Thornton longs to become a poet; Alicia wants to be a concert pianist. But civil unrest is brewing, and Christopher, the youngest of the de Silva children, is soon caught up in the violence and tragedy that follows.

Against a backdrop of escalating ethnic conflict , Grace watches helplessly as the life she knows begins to crumble. Slowly, this once-inseperable family is torn apart as they make the decision to immigrate to England.

In London the de Silva's are all, in their different ways, desperately homesick. Caught in a cultural clash between the traditional life they knew in the East and the jarring modernity of the West, life is not what any of them had dreamed of. Only ten-year-old Meeka moves confidently into a world that is full of possibilities. But even her life is not as easy as it often seems. It takes heartbreak and a terrible mistake before she is finally able to see the extraordinary effects of history on her family's migration."

My Review:

Although I expected this book to focus on the civil unrest in Sri Lanka in the time period that this book is based on, it actually was centered around the de Silva family, with Grace (the mother) at the hub. In the beginning of the book we meet the family as they prepare to leave their ancestral home for their second home on the sea. The five children are upset at having to leave their home and their school, yet the family vows to make the best of the situation.

As time passes, the children grow and change and the civil unrest becomes more prominent in their lives. Christopher is the first to leave, followed by his brother Jacob, then Thornton, and finally Alicia. Frieda is the only one who decides not to leave her home and instead cares for her aging mother and father. The children and their families find it hard to adjust to life in England, so different from the life they knew growing up. They all make adjustments and try to fit into life there, but only one person manages to immerse herself fully: Meeka, Thornton's daughter.

I feel that this book was not just a reflection on what war does to countries and their people; on a deeper level I feel that this book was about immigration and how it affects the people who are forced to or who choose to immigrate. I believe that this book was about living in a new place without fully conforming, and I think that it reflected on the fact that immigration is easier on the young.

All in all "Bone China" was an enjoyable book. It gave me a lot to reflect on myself: my Grandparents immigrated from Holland before my parents were born and I can't imagine that it was easy for them to get used to a place so entirely different from their homeland. It was well-written and clipped along at an easy pace- a great read for anyone who enjoys books about other cultures. The cover is beautiful as well; it really reflects the spirit of the book which I noticed as I read further. Thank-you to Deanna at HarperCollins Canada for this review copy!


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book. I have this one on my to-be-read pile. If you want to read another book by Tearne, check out "Mosquito". It was quite good.

  2. Thanks Marie! I think that you'll enjoy this one when you get to it. I did read "Mosquito" back in the day- that's what interested me in reading this one. I think that I liked "Bone China" better- I found it more people oriented vs. Mosquito which I found to be based more on events.