Posted by: sarah | February 12, 2009

Cloud of Bone, by Bernice Morgan

bone I was really surprised when I found I enjoyed this novel. All in all, Cloud is well written; the way Bernice Morgan writes is very seductive, and it kept me wanting to know more about the three people the novel revolves around. (To explain, I honestly didn’t have high expectations, believing it to be another crap book that my English teacher had assigned to the class, but after I had read few pages, I was hooked instantly.)

The novel begins with the story of Kyle Holloway, or “The Sailor,” a young man from Newfoundland, who accidentally gets himself signed up to join the Royal Navy (this part of the story takes place during World War II), and ends up a deserter for something he did while in the Navy, and tries to escape the possible consequences. Kyle’s kind of interesting in the way that he’s desperate and has very little sense of ambition or hope for himself.

Book 2, “The Savage,” is the largest part of the novel, telling the story of Shawnadithit, the last of the Boethuks. This is probably the saddest part of the novel, telling a coming of age story of a girl who is growing up in a culture that is slowly becoming annihilated by European settlers. The voice of the story is Shawnadithit’s own; it’s very powerful in a way that everything is vivid and extremely intense. Every Canadian knows why there’s no Native Americans in Newfoundland, and this story provides a chilling account of what happened to those people from their point of view. The narrative is terrifying in the sense that the haunting narrative makes you feel like you’re actually witnessing the entire thing yourself.

Morgan skillfully brings everything together in the third book, “The Scavenger,” the story of the recently widowed anthropologist Judith Muir, who is trying to put her life back together in present day England. Making a startling discovery in her childhood home, Judith sets out to find answers, and Morgan gives them to her in a way that ties up several loose ends from the other two stories, but leaves you wanting more when it ends. In this book, the author uses Judith to reflect upon the themes of the novel, one of the main ones being introduced to us through the quote at the beginning of the novel: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting” (Milan Kundera).

Cloud of Bone is vivid, absorbing and beautifully written, weaving together three different individuals to shed light on the worlds they lived in and their lives, musing about the power of memory and human brutality. This is one of the few books that I’ve read for school that I can honestly say I’ve fallen in love with.

For anyone who’s interested, here’s a review by the author’s niece that I found while searching for other reviews about the novel:


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