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Fiction Literary

The Very Marrow of Our Bones

A Novel

by (author) Christine Higdon

ECW Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2018
Literary, Family Life, Lesbian, Contemporary Women
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
    List Price

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Defiance, faith, and triumph in a heartrending novel about daughters and mothers

On a miserable November day in 1967, two women disappear from a working-class town on the Fraser River. The community is thrown into panic, with talk of drifters and murderous husbands. But no one can find a trace of Bette Parsons or Alice McFee. Even the egg seller, Doris Tenpenny, a woman to whom everyone tells their secrets, hears nothing.

Ten-year-old Lulu Parsons discovers something, though: a milk-stained note her mother, Bette, left for her father on the kitchen table. Wally, it says, I will not live in a tarpaper shack for the rest of my life . . .

Lulu tells no one, and months later she buries the note in the woods. At the age of ten, she starts running — and forgetting — lurching through her unraveled life, using the safety of solitude and detachment until, at fifty, she learns that she is not the only one who carries a secret.

Hopeful, lyrical, comedic, and intriguingly and lovingly told, The Very Marrow of Our Bones explores the isolated landscapes and thorny attachments bred by childhood loss and buried secrets.


About the author


  • Short-listed, Foreword Indies Award

Contributor Notes

Christine Higdon is a writer, editor, and graphic designer. She was shortlisted for the 2011 Marina Nemat Award and for the 2016 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize. Daughter of a Newfoundlander and a British Columbian, Christine lives in Mimico, Ontario, where she hooks rugs, worries about the bees, and longs for either ocean. This is her first novel.

Editorial Reviews


“Higdon’s debut novel is a finely observed chronicle of two women’s lives … this novel will appeal to readers more interested in the journey than the destination.” — Publishers Weekly

“An ambitious debut novel that will make you cry, cringe, and laugh … This small-town drama is jam-packed with revelations and sweet portraits that stick.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Canadian librarians in particular will want to pay attention to this debut.” — Booklist Online

“This wondrous book concerns more than mere detective work, expanding instead on the grander mysteries of love and hate, survival and destruction — and most powerfully, perhaps, of decades-long journeys home.” — Toronto Star

“Brutal and punishing with occasional grace notes, The Very Marrow of Our Bones is concerned with morbidity — both the human capacity for it and what people make of it when it becomes the raw material of their lives.” — Foreword Reviews


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