Deafening, by Frances Itani

I became aware of Deafening when it was Maureen McTeer’s selection for this year’s round of Canada Reads. It’s the story of a deaf woman, Grania, who lives in a small Ontario town at the beginning of the twentieth century. Grania loses her hearing at age five due to an illness, learns to lip-read and sign, goes to a school for the deaf, marries a hearing man, and waits at home for her husband, Jim, to return from the first World War.

That’s about all the plot there is to Deafening. Even speaking as someone who doesn’t like plot-driven novels and is quite happy with a “slow” book, I found Deafening a little too slow. I thought the information about what it was like to be a deaf woman 100 years ago was interesting, but while Itani created Grania’s world well, neither Grania nor Jim nor any of the other characters ever became truly compelling to me. As a “woman on the home front” WWI novel, it still doesn’t beat Rilla of Ingleside. I’m not sorry I read this book; it was somewhat interesting, but it never grabbed me as I’d hoped it would.

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2 Comments

Filed under Canadian author, Fiction -- historical

2 responses to “Deafening, by Frances Itani

  1. Anonymous

    Trudy
    I loved it because of the beautiful descriptions of sign language. However all other reviews were similar to yours.

  2. TrudyJ

    You’re right, the descriptions of sign language are beautiful, and there’s a lot to like about this novel — I just wish it had been more compelling for me personally.

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