A new Deseronto novel from the internationally bestselling author of Tell and Deafening
At the end of Frances Itani’s Scotiabank Giller Prize—shortlisted Tell, a baby is adopted by a young Deseronto couple who are coming to terms with the end of the Great War. Eighteen years on, the baby, Hanora, now a young woman, is told about her adoption, but given no details. As a second world war looms, Hanora is determined to uncover the mysteries of her identity. This quest will take her across the ocean with her cousin, Billie, and headlong into the tumult of Europe. Amid the tensions of World War II, the music and the great dance halls of the era beckon, and a career as a journalist becomes possible, even as her great love, Tobe, enlists in the Infantry. But Hanora will not let the past lie, even though, decades later, the truth remains beyond her grasp. Billie, whose memory is fading as she slips into dementia, provides elusive clues, but it isn’t until Hanora discovers a set of diaries written by a late local artist and that she begins to piece together the central issue of her own identity, hidden from her since birth.
Itani’s vivid storytelling, infused with music and seamless historical detail, reveals how memory, no matter how imperfect, can shape the person we believe ourselves to be.
“Tell is a treasure: serious with humorous moments, potent and controlled, subtle yet deeply moving.”
“This is a wonderful story, with a richly detailed sense of time and place, and compelling characters who, ultimately, all have secrets to tell.”
“A heart-wrenching story of hope and sacrifice, of human error and unconventional healing, in which the characters must test the strength of their love for one another in order to break free from the shadows of the past.”
“Masterful. . . . These characters are so vivid and well-drawn readers will celebrate their victories and cry alongside their anguish.”