This a powerful, gripping book, with sharply drawn characters who tug at every heartstring. But I need to insert a disclaimer here: it’s not an easy book, and it's not for everyone. Hulme’s long-windedness, her strange flights of prose or poetry, can feel excessive at times. There is also a violent episode that is particularly disturbing, although it's critical to the plot. Thankfully, the characters achieve.... Read more.
A LitLovers LitPick (Jun. 07)
Winner of the 1985 Booker Prize, this novel by a New Zealander of Maori, Scottish and English ancestry focuses on three people—one Maori, one European and one of mixed blood—who are locked together in animosity and love. Although Hulme sometimes is sidetracked into self-indulgent verbiage, she has abundant, enticing stories to tell of culturally split lives.
This is quite a first novel. The ending is revealed at its mysterious beginning; exotic line breaks and poetic punctuation put off at first but gradually become the best way to tell the tale; the Maori vocabulary is interwoven with contemporary British, Australian, and American idioms; and the New Zealand sea and landscape vibrate under fresh perception. Hulme shifts narrative points of view to build a gripping account of violence, love, death, magic, and redemption. A silverhaired, mute, abused orphan, a laborer heavy with sustained loss, and a brilliant intro spective recluse discover, after enormous struggle through injury and illness, what it means to lose and then regain a family. No wonder The Bone People won the Pegasus Prize. Highly recommended. —Rhoda Yerburgh, Adult Degree Program, Vermont Coll., Montpelier.
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