- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: W&N (25 Aug 2011)
- ISBN-10: 0297865080
- ISBN-13: 978-0297865087
Reality or delusion? Fantasy or fact? When word gets out that Mary-Margaret OReilly, a slow-witted but apparently harmless young woman, may have been witness to a miracle, religious mania descends on the Church of the Sacred Heart in Battersea. The consequences will be profound, not only for Mary-Margaret but for others too - Father Diamond, the parish priest, who is in the midst of his own crisis of faith, and Stella Morrison, adrift in her marriage and aching for her ten-year old son, away at boarding school. In the same parish Alice Armitage counts the days until her soldier son comes home from Afghanistan, and Mary-Margarets mother, Fidelma, imprisoned in a tower block, stares out over London with nothing but her thoughts for company. Remembering her early childhood by the sea in Ireland, the bleak institution she was sent to and the boy she loved, she hungers for consoling touch. In the meantime Mary-Margarets quest grows increasingly desperate. But no one is prepared for the shocking outcome that ensues. The Translation of the Bones is a searingly powerful novel about passion and isolation, about the nature of belief, about love and motherhood and a search for truth.
The Translation of the Bones is wonderfully written – a fresh new novel to shake the cobwebs off and introduce readers to something a bit different.
The style for one thing, is genius. No chapters, no dialogue tags and skips between multiple POVS. For a lot of writers, this would be catastrophic. Francesca Kay pulls it off effortlessly. She places you firmly inside the hearts and minds of her characters; their fears and delusions almost becoming your own.
Mary-Margaret O’Reilly is at the centre of the novel, bringing all the other threads together. She is a simple-minded woman, who enjoys her work cleaning Sacred Heart church. She takes particular care of the statue of Jesus on the cross. One afternoon’s cleaning has disastrous consequences for all involved. Mary-Margaret falls from a precarious position, breaking her wrist and banging her head. Before her fall, Mary-Margaret believes she saw the eyes of the statue open, and the wounds of Jesus bleed.
A crowd descends on the church, with many believing what Mary-Margaret is saying. While she is pondering her soon-to-be fame and now passionate relationship with Him, Alice Armstrong is awaiting her son’s return from war. Stella Morrison is in an unhappy marriage and pining for her son who is off at boarding school. Father Diamond is trapped in his own worries. Mary-Margaret’s mother, Fidelma, who is house-bound and disabled, is stuck in her small flat with nothing but her mind and memories for company.
The Translation of the Bones is a thought-provoking novel, with so many elements and twists. It is a story of passion and desperation, of loss and tragedy. It is not to be missed.