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3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,849 Ratings  ·  272 Reviews
Deaf since she was five years old, Grania has learned that watching is not always enough to survive in the world of the hearing. She has learned that words can often be impossible to see, their shape disappearing into a place where she cannot decipher their skittery ways. Sent to the Ontario School for the Deaf in Belleville, Grania must learn to live away from her loving ...more
Published August 18th 2003 by Phyllis Bruce Books (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 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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
Jan 21, 2016 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a Canadian best seller for sixteen weeks, reaching #1, and has been awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best Book Award for the Caribbean and Canadian Region. Set on the eve of the Great War, Deafening is a tale of remarkable virtuosity and power. At the age of five, Grania emerges from a bout of scarlet fever profoundly deaf, and is suddenly sealed off from the world that was just beginning to open for her. Sent to the Ontario School for the Deaf, Grania must learn to live away from her fam ...more
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!!
Mary Lou
Apr 06, 2015 Mary Lou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gem of a book. Despite the fact that the two main characters are lovers whose lives are interrupted by World War I, this book is so much more than a war story or a love story, though it is also very profoundly both of those things. We meet Grania when she is five and just recovering from a bout of scarlet fever which has made her lose her hearing. Itani illuminates Grania’s inner life and relates Grania’s keen observations of the world as she perceives it, observations gained without being abl ...more
Feb 15, 2015 Jo-anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book I have such a profound admiration for the skill and dedication to communication that the deaf commit to when learning speech, sign language and lip reading. I found myself repeating the words buy, my and pie, baffled each and every time how anyone could understand the differences from watching the mouth form these words. Imagine a world with a universal language using sign. One wonders if the atrocities of war would be lessened by the ability of everyone on earth to commu ...more
Amanda Bennett
Aug 10, 2015 Amanda Bennett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frances Itani's writing is almost like a stream of consciousness when she gets into the mind of Grania, the central character of the story who lost her hearing as a result of scarlet fever as a child. What makes her writing so amazing is how accurately she depicts the experience of someone who has lost their hearing, given the fact Frances Itani herself is not deaf. I would have never thought that a hearing impairment could make for such a touching love story, but it certainly did.

I met Frances
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.
Stephanie Pieck
Apr 04, 2016 Stephanie Pieck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Itani's voice and her exploration of how language can liberate or imprison was exhilarating. The story revolves around Grania, a girl who loses her hearing at age 5 due to scarlet fever in turn-of-the-20th-century Canada. The book shifts among characters, portraying how various members of Grania's family respond to this life-altering event. Grania's beloved Mamo pours her love into the child in practical ways, accepting that though the deafness may be a loss, it shouldn't be a prison. Grania's m ...more
Oct 20, 2015 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grania O'Neill is the daughter of the owner of a hotel in Deseronto, Ontario that is famous for her mother’s cooking. In 1905, when she is five, Grania loses her hearing to scarlet fever and much of the first part of the book vividly evokes the experience of a child without hearing. After several years of denial, her parents finally send her away to the Ontario Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in Belleville. After graduating, she works as a nurse in the Belleville hospital, where she falls in l ...more
Shannon Larsen
I read this book for one of my first year history Classes, an I must say I was pleasently surprised. I liked the formulation of the characters, and how it seemed like a borderline non-fiction book. It was fairly slow paced, in my opinion, but it was captivating enough to keep you going to the end.

Overall, I thought the main character was interesting, and I liked the romance involved, as well as the flashing between perspectives, but I found myself skimming through the main characters perspectiv
May 11, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I nearly didn't choose this book due to its generic women's lit cover art, but quotes from the Independent, Times and Guardian convinced me. Set in early 1900s Canada, Deafening tells the story of a deaf girl, Grania, from her early childhood through adolescence to adulthood. I was fascinated by the wealth of detail about everyday life for deaf people during this era. Grania's eventual romance with a hearing man, Jim, is trumpeted in the back cover synopsis but forms little of the book as the tw ...more
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.
Jul 29, 2014 Heiderworld marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
At the age of five, Grania-the daughter of hardworking Irish hoteliers in smalltown Ontario-emerges from a bout of scarlet fever profoundly deaf and is suddenly sealed off from the world that was just beginning to open for her. Her guilt-plagued mother cannot accept her daughter's deafness. Grania's saving grace is her grandmother Mamo, who tries to teach Grania to read and speak again. Grania's older sister, Tress, is a beloved ally as well-obliging when Grania begs her to shout words into her ...more
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 12, 2015 Carole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Itani tells the story of Grania, a child who becomes deaf at the age of five after a bout of scarlet fever, with a great deal of authenticity and emotional truth. I found the chapters about her education at the Ontario School for the Deaf in Belleville to be particularly interesting.

The second part of the book involving Grania's relationship with Jim during World War I is equally fascinating. I am particularly interested in stories of this war and Canada's participati
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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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