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3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  3,080 Ratings  ·  290 Reviews
Elegantly written and profoundly moving, Deafening sent an uncommon roar through the literary world when it made its way into the hands of its first readers at this past year's Frankfurt Book Fair, and was immediately snapped up by twelve eminent publishers from around the world. Frances Itani's lauded debut novel is a tale of remarkable virtuosity and power, set on the ev ...more
Hardcover, 378 pages
Published September 23rd 2003 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published January 1st 2003)
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I loved this book. Grania and Jim have taken their place in my heart as one of my favorite literary couples. Although this book addresses many larger issues - disability, illness, war - and does it well, at its heart it is Jim and Grania's love story, the story of a love that sustains and survives. This book is beautifully written and truly touched my heart. I cannot wait to read the sequel, Tell.
Ron Charles
There's not a single false gesture in Frances Itani's "Deafening." Despite its subjects - war, romance, disability - it's a story of careful, measured emotion, bleached of all sentimentality. The publisher has positioned the novel as a debut in America, but Canadians have been reading Itani for decades, and every page of this story betrays the hands of a mature writer who knows exactly what she's doing.

The heroine, Grania O'Neill, was robbed of her hearing at the age of five by scarlet fever in
Carolyn Gerk
I am not certain that this wasn't a good book, but at the very least, I, personally, was not in the right state of mind to read it. I felt like it had so much potential: an original story, an exciting setting, some very clever and poignant symbolism and resounding themes.
Sadly, I was just never really hooked. I never felt engaged in this novel. I am not sure if that is due in part to an inability to connect to the characters. I had some interest in Jim and occasionally in our heroine, though I o
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Jan 10, 2008 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canlit, impac-dublin
A very unusual World War I story, told through the eyes of a young deaf woman named Grania. Poignant, well-told, powerful. Very enjoyable.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “If only he did not have to look at the hands. In death they told more than the face; he knew that now. It was the hands that revealed the final argument: clenched in anger, relaxed in acquiescence, seized in a posture of surprise or forgiveness, or taken unawares. Clawing at a chest, or raised unnaturally in a pleading attitude. How can this
Mar 27, 2013 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately Frances Itani didn’t have good editorial advice. If she’d had good editorial advice she might have written two good novels instead of this one weak novel. The problem for Itani is that she wanted to tell two stories: one of the experience of a young girl growing up deaf at the turn of the century and one of WW1 trenches (because what Canadian literature needs is *another* WW1 Western Front narrative…). How are these stories connected you ask? Very, very tenuously and not at all in ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Should really be 3.5 stars, but I rounded down. I adore the premise of this book: a deaf girl growing up in Canada in the early 1900s who falls in love with a hearing man who goes away to war. I love war stories, especially involving women, I love love stories, and Grania’s deafness adds a really fascinating dimension to the old war romance story. A+ for the general plot idea.

The problem is in the execution. The first third of the book is quite interesting and lovely – it’s all about Grania grow
Nov 25, 2008 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of lush dialogue and strong character relationships
This book was amazing. The writing style took a bit of time to relate to but it was a story told from the perspective of a deaf woman. It was a profoundly moving story that takes the reader through Grania's illness that results in deafness at age 5 through her growing into a woman, falling in love and waiting for her husband's return from WWI. Through the story you begin to feel that Grania is the strong one, the one most aware of her world and the hearing world. Her connection to both worlds is ...more
Jan 29, 2008 Rosana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rosana by: bookclub pick from Georgina
Shelves: 2008, book-club
This is a tender and deeply moving book. Frances Itani tells the story of a deaf woman (loosely inspired on her own deaf grandmother), waiting for her young husband’s return from WWI with superb prose. The complexity of what is or isn’t communicate in every relationship, the loneliness of disconnect, and ultimately the healing power of love, family and friendship is weaved through the plot with mastery.

I am looking forward to Itani’s next book.
Oct 24, 2010 Tracey-Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I absolutely loved this book. I didn't want it to end. Definitely one of my all time favorites and one I will read again, which I rarely ever do.

Frances has done such a beautiful job of creating a family you can't help but fall in love with. Rarely have I read a book where I loved so many of the characters so much that I wanted to know their own stories too, individually!

I found the perspective of a deaf woman and other deaf characters, fascinating. So much so I actually stopped part of the way
Apr 04, 2009 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written novel about the struggle of a young girl, Grania, living in Deseronto, Ontario in 1902 who is rendered deaf after a bout of scarlet fever. After being sent to Belleville, Ontario to attend the school for the Deaf, she falls in love with a hearing man named Jim. Grania, due to her deafness pronounces her husband's name Chim. Jim is sent into World War 1 to be a stretcher bearer and through letters home to Grania, tries to maintain their language of love, silence and 'fingers on lips. ...more
Feb 21, 2009 Polly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who appreciate subtlety--this is not an edgy best-seller type
Recommended to Polly by: Allison
Shelves: polly
I have read many more books about WWII than WWI, so this book was interesting to me historically. The depictions of the waste and suffering of war are not new themes, but they are well handled here. I very much liked the quotes from a school newspaper that precede many chapters, and show the war through children's comments. As with WWII, people felt patriotic in supporting the war (and were even cruel to those who did not enlist), and this is such a contrast to the views on war of my generation. ...more
Shelly Wright
Wow! If L.M. Montgomery and Erich Maria Remarque had a baby. . .

This is the first of Itani’s books that I have read. It won’t be the last. Her slow, quiet, cumulative writing style captures simple details one on top of the other to create unforgettable images and precious characters I will carry with me for some time. Deafening is a book about love, loss, language and the ability of the human spirit to carry on, to bear the sorrow—ours and others—and to survive, if not triumph. In the book, we l
May 17, 2013 Lindsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting read - at times poignant and heartbreaking, but informative as well. I don't often read novels about WWI but have read Itani's "Remembering The Bones" and found it captured my attention so thought I'd give it a try. So glad I did!

Others noted that the two stories were loosely connected, but I found it provided interesting viewpoints from the perspective of the character and tied together just right. This story didn't romanticize or glamourize the horrors of war. It also p
Feb 11, 2011 Renee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know somewhere in this book is a beautiful story. The first 75 pages were pretty fascinating. The story of Graine as a child, and her struggles with being deaf were very interesting, and rung true.

However, somewhere along the lines she grew up and fell in love.. which the book failed to spend any time on! At the end of one chapter, she meets Jim, and then, in the next chapter they are getting married!! HELLO! Where is the love story???

So yeah, I tried, but I could not trudge through the rest o
Feb 21, 2008 Danna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Danna by: Dawn's Book Club
I quickly fell to skimming the pages after the first couple of chapters; in the end, I didn't feel as though I missed anything by doing so. I can't say I disliked Itani's writing style, it felt very tranquil like walking through a gallery of Seurat paintings, but everything in the story felt the same at the end as it did in the beginning; not enough detail to sustain my attention for an entire novel. I kept thinking, "I'd enjoy her writing much more in short-story form; in a full length novel it ...more
Leah Anderson
I liked it, but more for the aspect of the deaf. The author had definitely done her research about the deaf. For instance she included aspects such as the 'communicator' having the light falling onto their face, and the deaf person having the light behind them, to maximise clear communication. She included how much the deaf miss when a group of hearing are contributing to a conversation faster than the deaf person can keep up with who is speaking next. I also found the idiom's we take for grante ...more
Aug 03, 2016 Sunni rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think I might have liked this book more when I was younger. It just didn't engage me. I read it because of it having a deaf character; I've always been fascinated by how the deaf engage with the world, learn, communicate, and their interesting communication/conceptual process. That said, I enjoyed this first third of the book, when Grania, who is deaf, is growing up. I stopped enjoying it once she marries Jim, a hearing man, and I really didn't like the descriptions of his WWI experiences. I a ...more
Jul 31, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a page turner, all 378 pages of it. I was taken in quickly by the intelligent writing and careful explanation of time, place and characters. The story was wide ranging but deeply connected, from childhood lonliness, bullying and joy to the adult ravages of wartime. Characters and individual scenes will stay with me long after I have forgotten the title of this book! I want to read more of Itani. This was my first book for my first YouTubeBookathon!
Oct 09, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well-written, fascinating look into the life of a deaf girl/woman before and during WWI. After the first part of the book (which is mostly about her childhood/school experience), it goes back and forth between what her hearing husband is going through as a stretcher-bearer in No Man's Land, and what she experiences back in the US. Slow-moving in parts, but very detailed and absorbing.
Mar 08, 2011 Bethany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It gave me an entirely new perspectives on language and deafness. I found myself mulling over topics in this book frequently. One of the better books I have read in a while.
Apr 22, 2010 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, 2010
This book was set in the WWI time frame, and told the story of a deaf girl who married a hearing man that went to fight in the war. It was strangely written, as it was more or less told in little vignettes and there didn't seem to be a lot of consistency through out the story.
Marcia Miller
Meh...but I stuck with it to the end. Good concept, interesting characters, dramatic war scenes, but monotone, flat story-telling.
Jan 04, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is so beautiful ~ the words, the sentences, the story, the flow - Frances Itani is amazing! I loved this book.
Sep 08, 2015 Betty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this story! Awesome characters and set in rural Ontario 1915-1919.... another great Canadian author!!
Katrin Aurora
Dec 07, 2016 Katrin Aurora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deafening: How to Uncover a War
Book review of Deafening by Frances Itani
The book Deafening by an Order of Canada, a group that recognizes outstanding service to the Canadian nation, member Frances Itani is a book spanning the time from pre-war 1905 through the end of the war in 1915 and is placed in the setting of a Canadian town. Deafening follows Grania, a deaf Canadian in a boarding school for the deaf and dumb, and her husband Jim, or as Grania calls him, “Chim,” from Grania’s childhood to t
Jennifer Harper
After being told by two people, one who lent me the book, that this was there favourite book of all time, I was eager to read Deafening and disappointed that I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. The research, both regarding the war and deafness as well as turn of the century life in a small, rural town, was thorough. And maybe that was the problem. Overloaded with information, I couldn't get a feel for the characters the way I wanted to. It was only during the dish breaking scene that I actu ...more
A puff of air, an aroma or a movement in the corner of her eye - these are the signals that something is happening around her. For Grania (Graw - née - a) is deaf as a result of a bout with scarlet fever when she was a child.

Grania has a protective mother (who feels guilty for her daughter's deafness), and a loving grandmother and sister who help her. She is sheltered until she is nine, when it is was apparent that she needed schooling. She is sent to the Ontario School for the Deaf 20 miles awa
Dec 28, 2016 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful cast of characters set near Brockville Ont. beginning in 1903. The family was determined their deaf daughter would learn to speak. I think I liked gramma 'Mamo' the best.
Oct 10, 2016 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written story and I enjoyed it tremendously.
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Frances Susan Itani is a Canadian fiction writer, poet and essayist.

Itani was born in Belleville, Ontario and grew up in Quebec. She studied nursing in Montreal and North Carolina, a profession which she taught and practised for eight years. However, after enrolling in a writing class taught by W. O. Mitchell, she decided to change careers.

Itani has published ten books, ranging from fiction and po
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“hands, returned a ‘G’ close to his own heart.” 1 likes
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