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Bone China

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  332 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
When Grace de Silva’s once prominent family loses their vast tea estate she has little idea how profoundly life in her lush Eden-like homeland of Sri Lanka is about to change. Her children dream of escape—Jacob, the eldest, wants desperately to go to England; Thornton longs to become a poet; Alicia dreams of becoming a concert pianist. But civil unrest is brewing and Chris ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 30th 2009 by Europa Editions (first published 2008)
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Adam Lowe
Oct 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This family saga deals with displacement, set between the multicultural conflicts of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and the (very different) multicultural conflicts of London.

Grace is the wife of typical rover Aloysius, her marriage is gradually disintegrating around her and her five kids.

Between a son who dreams of England, a would-be poet, a revolutionary, and a concert pianist, the family is full of its own conflicting drives, which pull it in a multitude of directions, echoing the conflicts i
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: subway-books
subtly written with excellently crafted characters who you want to root for as they move through their lives. i loved seeing how each one grew and changed, sometimes for the worst, sometimes for the better.
politics, love, marriage, tragedy, identity crisis and art entwine the tale of the de Silva clan across a span of 30+ years and two countries.

one special "extra" for me was that the characters are Ceylonese/Sri Lankan - i know very little about that country and enjoyed the insight from the nov
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my favorite novels EVER. It's a family saga that sweeps generations set in Sri Lanka; the scenery is beautiful, the characters are intriguing and the story will haunt you. The title is a fitting metaphor for the delicate nature of human life-- a must read!!
Nesta Tuomey
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent study of a family. Sadness and humour mixed told with sensitivity. The addition of the mynah bird, Jasper, to the household lightens all their hearts except that of Grace's relative, Myrtle, who had loved Aloysius but been rejected when he chose Grace instead, and she has never got over her jealousy and dislike of her beautiful cousin. Grace's husband is a disappointment to her and his heavy drinking and extravagance a worry. Their marriage is unsatisfactory and Grace in her lonelin ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first read in ages since having a baby 9 months ago so I went at this book a little more earnestly than your average person. I had read and loved - wait, adored - Brixton Beach, I just don't know why I didn't go back to a Roma Tearne book sooner.
Roma Tearne can write BEAUTIFULLY, her writing is poetic and hauntingly sophisticated; I'm sure she could make 'watching paint dry' read beautifully! I grabbed this book for her, her writing, and I wasn't disappointed.
This book came to me at the rig
Nov 19, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm hesitant on what I should rate this book. At this point, I'd say that it's at a 2.5. It's not a bad book, it just isn't a great book

The book is centralized around the de Silva family, a family from Sri Lanka during the time of civil war. I think it would have helped had I known more about the civil war in Sri Lanka before I had read the book, because the book left me wanting at least a little more on the historical aspect. (I had learned a lot about India in school, but never much on Sri
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: india
I really liked this. I even loved it at times. As Ann pointed out, it's interesting that the author is a visual artist--the descriptions of Sri Lanka and the family's house in particular are lovely and vivid, and sometimes scary. And I loved a lot of the characters (there were MANY). I don't want to label this a Family Saga, because I feel like that is weighting it down with unnecessary baggage, but it is what it is. It succeeds at being many thing at once: history, family, political, love story ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story of an immigrant family fleeing Ceylon - Sri Lanka today. I thought it was going to be more about the genocide between the Tamils and the Sinhalese, however the intrusion of the war, which quietly entered the story from time to time did indeed have an impact on this elite Tamil family. Estranging and displacing family members, wreaking careers and separating family members by thousands of miles. Attempts to adapt to life in England were difficult and never really successful with the older ...more
Jan 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
A brilliant book. A multigenerational family saga that starts in Ceylon and tracks what happens to the family and society as the British leave and the country becomes Sri Lanka, racked by civil war between the Tamils and the Sinhalese. Like books like White Teeth and The Inheritance of Loss, the novel also examines issues of identity and how it is transformed by its location in space and culture.
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent - one of the best books I've read for a long time.

Strangely enough, I tried to read The Swimmer but couldn't get into it for some reason.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: red-cover
This was a broad sweeping epic. Family life, struggles, infidelities, secrets, life, love, drama, heartbreak, joy. Nicely written and well paced.
I have really enjoyed Roma Tearne's novels in the past and this book, a long rambling family saga of a Sri Lankan family is good, though not perhaps as enjoyable as the others. The family has huge pressures on them; unsustainable estates, a father who gambles, the Tamil civil war and the urge of the children to emigrate to Britain in hope of a better life. It's a long read yet the characters are largely interesting.
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bone China follows the four generations of the de Silva family from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) to London, England. One by one they realize that their homeland is much too dangerous and they must escape the lawlessness and corruption. First, a few of the sons move, then others follow. Settling down, fitting it and getting used to the cold is not as easy as they hoped. Assimilation and the tragedies they face slowly take their toll as the characters keep their secrets, commit their errors and t ...more
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the contrasting landscapes of Sri Lanka and London, Bone China tells the story of four generations of the de Silva family, as the sweep of history effects their lives. Like all Roma Tearne's books, it is extremely moving and affecting, and the characterisation and vivid descriptions ensure the reader connects with the novel on so many levels.
The breakdown of British colonial rule is echoed in the breakdown of the family as, in turn, three of the children emigrate to England.
The novel e
A moderately enjoyable read, this was a diverting enough book but ultimately failed to leave much of an impression on me. Probably due to the exotic setting of Sri Lanka, I found the first half more engaging, and was less interested in the chapters detailing the lives of the latter generations of the de Silva family in London. There was also something very sad about watching the characters grow from vibrant, ambitious children into dull, jaded adults. I understand the point was to illustrate the ...more
Alice Meloy
Aug 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The decades long post-Empire politico-ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka provides the backdrop for this family saga. Having lost the family estate, Grace and Aloysius Da Silva move to Colombo to raise their five children in fading upper-class style. As life becomes more difficult for ethnic Tamils, some of the Da Silva children emigrate to Great Britain to start new lives. The many characters are all clearly and distinctly drawn as are their relationships. And though events often don't work out as fam ...more
Mar 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt like the middle of the book was not as strong as the beginning and or the end which were lovely. I felt that the middle got a little lost. At terms I wondered what the heck was going on, what were these characters doing, and was there any point. Although, the characters in the novel are also a little lost so maybe that was the way I was supposed to feel. Additionally, I know very little of the Sri Lanka history so the historical parts were interesting even though they were just quick view ...more
Jul 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written book that manages to explore a number of themes: civil war in Sri Lanka, immigrant life in the UK, and complex intra-family relationships. It reminded me a lot of the China-themed novels/memoirs I have enjoyed in the past like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Chinese Cinderella, Wild Swans and numerous Amy Tans, and it was wonderful to learn more about a country I knew very little about previously.

What cost this book a 5th star from me was the rushed and somewhat unnecessary
Vicki Bismilla
I wanted so much to like this book and it had its moments. I wish the author concentrated more on Grace and told us more about Sunil and Vijay-those were three interesting characters. But on the whole I found it a disappointing read. Grace's spoiled children were irritating and her bratty grand-daughter became interesting only toward the very end but then the author hurriedly scribbled the last chapter propping up a cardboard image of Henry who finally made it possible for Meeka to appreciate an ...more
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone esp those interested in Sri Lanka
I fell in love with this novel and the family in it and I couldn't stop reading. Although the end was a bit rushed in that the author really wanted a happy ending, I thought it was such a beautiful story. Some novels with big families usually tend to just gloss over one or two particular family members or write a gargantuan novel just to fairly portray everyone but this novel captured every family member beautifully.
Ramya (Idea Smith)
The most interesting thing about this book was its setting - post colonial Sri Lanka. I'm not at all familiar with the place or the period, though it felt so close to India, especially South India where I'm from.

That said, the story dragged on quite a bit. The characters seemed lackadaisical and the plot struggled to carry me through. I only finished the book because I was determined to give a foreign author & setting a more-than-fair chance.
Good, but not great. The author did have some awesome descriptions / ways of describing things. At times in the story I would feel really connected with one of the characters, but then it seemed to just drop off. There were many characters over several generations, but unfortunately, it seemed like many of the storylines never got completed.
Tom Carden
Store drags on way to long, often found myself thinking ".... who cares?!", but I enjoyed the insights into Sri Lanka during that period. Tearne is a good and enjoyable writer - this one was just way too long winded.
Sep 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction
All Roma Tearne's books have been a revelation finally first generation Sri Lankan Tamil literature telling our story, middle class tamils dealing with loss of status and country, and dealing with politics of country you're loosing touch with. Finding out the promised land is not promising.
May 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would rate this 3.5 stars. The family dynamics are well narrated, amidst a background of conflict. Tearne depicts the feelings of loss, loss of identity n loss of personal history, which is a recurring theme in migrant communities.
good book. nice descriptions of life in colonial sri lanka, empire and so forth. i have not read about sri lankan fiction or anything about the tamil conflict, so this was good. look forward to reading more of roma tearne.
Jul 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this book took a while to get me interested, I felt that it was fairly well written and I liked the storyline. I felt I could empathise with the feelings of each of the characters in different ways.
Carol Randall
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, especially the part set in London, more than the first part in Sri Lanka. I thought that the last chapter was unnecessary - the author was really just telling the reader what had happened to all the characters.
Sachitra Mahendra
Such a melancholic unputdownable family saga! Roma Tearne has done it simply superb, much better than her first work.
Jul 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book but not nearly as much as mosquito, which I read first. Maybe that was the only reason. And I would recommend this one too. Just read Mosquito for sure.
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Roma Tearne is a Sri Lankan born artist living and working in Britain. She arrived, with her parents in this country at the age of ten. She trained as a painter, completing her MA at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford. For nearly twenty years her work as a painter, installation artist, and filmmaker has dealt with the traces of history and memory within public and private spaces.

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