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Bone China Paperback – 1 Jan 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; (Reissue) edition (2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007257503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007257508
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 258,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roma Tearne arrived with her parents in Britain from Sri Lanka at the age of ten and 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, filmmaker and novelist has dealt with traces of history and memory in public and private spaces.

Roma's first novel, 'Mosquito', was shortlisted for the Costa First Book Award. She is married with three children and lives in Oxford.


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3.8 out of 5 stars
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Book Addict TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 July 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
From 1939, when the first world war affects a Ceylon still under British Crown Rule, through the country's struggling independence, its resulting race wars and mass emigration to an England believed to offer a safer, better way of life; "Bone China" is a sweeping saga detailing the struggle of the once affluent de Silva family.

Grace de Silva, the beautiful matriarch of the family watches her family splinter apart as she faces her own personal heartbreaks. Her husband Aloysius is an alcoholic seemingly intent on squandering away her family inheritance; whilst her children struggle to adapt to the changes in their own lives. Eldest daughter and talented pianist Alicia is on the brink of dominating the musical world until her beloved husband Sunil is shot. While she is overcome by her grief, her brothers, Jacob, Christopher and Thornton one by one leave the escalating troubles of Ceylon for lives in England, yet their futures are not what they anticipate. Left behind, it is their quiet sister Frieda who chooses to remain and keep their heritage alive.

In England, the utterly handsome Thornton remains besotted by his equally stunning daughter Anna-Meeka; yet as memories of Ceylon fade, Meeka wants to be like all the children she mixes with and begins to resent her family's differences. This head strong young girl is soon a stranger to her parents; especially her father who wants her to set aside her love of music and study hard to become a doctor. Meeka though has no intention of following the grand dreams her father has for her.

This is a beautiful story, beautifully written by author Roma Tearne and certainly an epic story that sweeps through the lives of four generations of the de Silva family as the majority come to grips with a new country and a vastly different culture. "Bone China" is not something that I would normally look for or even purchase; however I am so pleased that the Vine programme has expanded my horizons.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tealady2000 VINE VOICE on 15 Sep 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I thought the start of this book was absolutely delightful - the description of the de Silva family's life in Ceylon in the years following WW2 was excellent and the characters were so beautifully drawn, they seemed to leap from the page. I loved the way Roma Tearne used the very different personalities of the children to explore the tragic repercussions of the breakdown of British colonial rule. However when the focus of the story moved to Britain, the magic seemed to disappear and I thought the book became much more turgid. At the end, a large number of new characters seem to come out of nowhere, which just seemed very artificial. Overall I thought this was a good description of the problems faced by immigrants to Britain but for me it did not live up to the expectation created by the first 100 pages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 11 Aug 2009
Format: Hardcover
Sri Lankan-born artist-writer Roma Tearne, who left her native country when she was ten, revisits the years leading up to the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983 - 2009) and its effects on families in her second novel, Bone China. In this novel, she is more interested in family issues than in politics, focusing on the lives of a Tamil Catholic family as it faces the inevitabilities of violence and warfare on their small island nation. Opening in 1939, the novel recreates the British raj in the era leading up to World War II, when Aloysius de Silva, his wife Grace, and their five children owned and lived on a large plantation, favorites of their British administrators.

When the British decide to leave Ceylon, however, the family moves to their "other house" near the sea in Colombo. Here they and their children come to symbolize the various movements competing for attention in the small island country in the years immediately after World War II, movements which eventually result in violence. Though the de Silvas are Tamil, with Sinhalese ties, it quickly becomes obvious to them that "There is something wrong with a country that will not unite." For some family members, escape to England offers their only hope, while matriarch Grace, in Colombo, tries to keep the remaining family safe in Sri Lanka.

Tearne creates a vibrant family saga involving all these characters, and though they tend to be somewhat stylized in personality and somewhat predictable in their behavior, she succeeds in keeping the action moving and the picture of life in Sri Lanka developing, even as the violence is taking its course and irrevocably changing the face of the country. Not surprisingly, the characters who have gone to England discover in Part II that their dreams have been unrealistic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DubaiReader TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Oct 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The De Silva family are living in the rural beauty of Sri Lanka when we meet Grace, her husband Aloysius, and their 5 children.
When Aloysius's drinking and gambling necessitate selling the tea plantation and moving to Colombo, a sequence of events is set in motion that has different repercussions on each of the family members.
The British rule of Sri Lanka ends soon after the move and peace is shattered. The De Silvas, a Catholic, Tamil family, are now the persecuted minority group and life becomes increasingly difficult.
Gradually various members of the family emigrate to Britain and we follow their lives alongside that of the family members remaining in the beloved Mother Country. Britain, however, is not the idyll they had anticipated and the problems of integrating are well portrayed.

There are some well drawn characters, not least, Jason the chatty Minor Bird who has some amusing anecdotes.
Also some quite astute reflections on the pull of the Mother Country and an excellent feel for the struggle of the displaced.
I admired the way we were kept up to date on events in both countries but it did start to feel like a bit of a saga as we followed the lives of Grace and Aloysius right through to their grand daughter and great grand daughter.

If you have not already read it, I would recommend Monica Ali's Brick Lane, which has a similar theme, the struggles of immigration
Looking forward to reading Ms Tearne's earlier novel, Mosquito.
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