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Deafening

(Grania O’Neill #1)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,617 ratings  ·  327 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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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,617 ratings  ·  327 reviews


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☕Laura
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
...more
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
...more
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Beautiful. Epic in scope and feeling just like No Man's Land - parts where you were in the war, like Tolkien's book. Written with the beautiful prose like The Summer Before the War.

Tell takes off from where Deafening ends in ways. Instead of the story of Grania, it is centered on Kenan, Grania's sister Tess' husband. So often throughout Deafening Grania would say "Tell", "Tell" when demanding information that she could not hear. I thought that was so interesting. I read Tell before Deafening, e
...more
Jay
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Donna
Jan 10, 2008 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
...more
Cherie
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are times when one does not want to hurry their way through reading a book. In the case of this one, it is doubly so. First because of the beautiful prose and second because of the subject matter. This was a beautifully written and wonderfully researched book regarding being deaf and learning to grow up in a hearing world. All of the characters are beautifully written and the landscape and weather in Ontario are as much a character in the story as the people in it.

The second part of the s
...more
 Olivermagnus
This novel is partially inspired by the experiences of the Frances Itani's deaf grandmother. It is the story of Grania, a little girl growing up in southern Ontario in the early years of the 20th century, who is struck deaf by scarlet fever at the age of five. We first meet Grania as she and her family try to come to terms with her sudden disability. When she is nine she's sent to the nearby Ontario School for the Deaf in Belleville for seven years of segregated education, where she's allowed no ...more
Erin
Mar 27, 2013 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
Sarah
Mar 07, 2011 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
...more
Poiema
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazingly tender and beautifully written account of a deaf child, her struggles to understand the world of sound, and her ultimate victory in achieving her life purpose as an adult. The struggles of Grania's growing up years were softened by the unfailing love and support of her Irish Grandmother, who devoted her life to enabling Grania to succeed. I loved the secret communications that developed between Grania and her sister, and later the unique and sweet language of love shared wi ...more
Jane Greene
Nov 25, 2008 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
Rosana
Jan 06, 2008 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.
Tina
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
I liked this novel but I definitely didn't love it. Itani focused more than half the book on the war. I was hoping she would've wrote more on Grainy's experiences at school where she spent the majority of her adolescence. I feel that if she spent more with Grainy during those years I would've then felt a deeper connection to her. Instead she skips over from the age of 9 to 19 within a few pages.

The courtship between Grainy and Jim is very short due to his enlistment in the war but I wish Itani
...more
Meredith
I enjoyed this book. I liked the different perspectives you get from the family members about Grania's deafness. It is a part of history I never really thought about.

One thing this book made me realize is I really don't like reading stories about world war one. Just the senseless human loss grates on me. It is so sad. But, at the same time it is good to remember.
Tracey-Lee
Oct 21, 2010 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
...more
Shelly
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
...more
Louise
Mar 24, 2009 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
Renee
Mar 19, 2010 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
...more
Yasemine
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. Not only was it quite historical with World War One and the Spanish influenza, there was also the history of Deaf culture in Canada too. The story follows a young girl who loses her hearing due to the scarlet fever and follows her journey to re learning how to communicate with her new reality. As well as so it is well written and has many side stories at once.
Mary-Kathryn
3.5 stars
Canadian
Plotless and meandering--at least as far as I got. One of those books with slow, self-consciously poetic language. I didn't have the patience to persist and have avoided Itani ever since.
Polly
Jan 31, 2009 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
Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)
This masterfully written saga takes us from 1903 through 1919 during the life of Grania O'Neill, a young woman, deaf since an illness she had at a young age. Never have I felt as though I somewhat understood the world of the deaf until this book. The characters in this novel are exceptionally well described in all aspects of their personality, and there are lots of memorable characters.

Grania, her mother, her grandmother "Mamo", her childhood friends, and the love of her life -- Jim Lloyd, a man
...more
Lindsey
May 15, 2013 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
...more
Danna
Jan 06, 2008 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
Sunni
Nov 04, 2012 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
Catherine
Feb 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, boring
So boring, gloomy, repetitous, slow moving and overly dramatic. Not much of a love story - they met and were married within a few pages. There was no story of their courtship or how Jim felt about marrying someone who was deaf. Because I was reading this for Book club, I felt an obligation to finish it. The last 30 pages were so hard to get through. I felt like I was literally crawling on my hands and knees trying to get to the finish line.
Susan
Jul 02, 2016 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!
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New Canadian Libr...: * Deafening: March 2019 12 8 Mar 29, 2019 01:34PM  
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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
...more

Other books in the series

Grania O’Neill (2 books)
  • Tell (Grania, #2)
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“hands, returned a ‘G’ close to his own heart.” 1 likes
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