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The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow (P.S.) [Paperback]

Rita Leganski
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £9.27 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 378 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (26 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062113763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062113764
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 309,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Paperback. Pub Date :2013-02-07 Pages: 400 Language: English Publisher: Harper Paperbacks A magical debut novel from Rita Leganski. The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is the tale of a mute boy whose gift of wondrous hearing reveals family secrets and forgotten voodoo lore. and exposes a murder that threatens the souls of those who love him. Bonaventure Arrow didn't make a peep when he was born. and the doctor nearly took him for dead. But he was listening. placing sound inside quiet and gaining his bearings. By the time he turns five. he can hear flowers grow. a thousand shades of blue. and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops. He also hears the voice of his dead father. William Arrow. mysteriously murdered by a man known only as the Wanderer. Exploring family relics. he opens doors to the past and finds the key to a web of secrets that both hold his family togeth...

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical debut 1 Mar 2013
By Luanne Ollivier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I've been hearing things - good things - about Rita Leganski's debut novel The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow. And, after the first few chapters I have to agree wholeheartedly.

I have my favourite genres, but sometimes there's something about the description of a book or the opening lines that grabs me and I just know that this is going to one of those special books that stays with me. Until I lend it out - because I'll definitely be recommending this one.

"Bonaventure Arrow didn't make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. But the child was only listening, placing sound inside quiet and gaining his bearings because everything had suddenly changed. His silence gave pause to the experts who examined him; here was a curiosity beyond their expertise. (They could never have explained Bonaventure anyway because there is no scientific word for miraculous.) They didn't know that through his remarkable hearing he would bring salvation to the souls of those who loved him."

With those few opening pages, I felt like I was sitting down to hear a storyteller spin a magical yarn of what could be... or who knows - what is. I was entranced by the idea of a boy who could hear what inanimate objects were saying, their stories, hearing the unspoken sorrow and sadness, the joy and pain of people's lives, the sound of everything.

"Bonaventure Arrow had been chosen to bring peace. There was guilt to be dealt with, and poor broken hearts, and atonement gone terribly wrong. And too there were family secrets to be heard; some of them old and all of them harmful.

I really don't want to say much more about the plot - it's just so much better to have it unfold before your own eyes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric book about guilt and forgiveness 9 Sep 2014
Interesting book about forgiveness and redemption. Bonaventure Arrow is born posthumously to his heart broken mother. He is a silent child, and though he cannot talk, he can hear better than anyone else.This gift enables him to "hear" colors, plants growing and the voice of his father. This is a story about sin and forgiveness. Each character in the book carries a heavy load of guilt, that somehow connects them all together. Though at times predictable, I still found it an intriguing read and gobbled up the pages to the satisfying conclusion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic read 29 Mar 2014
By Tawny
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It isn't at all the story you preconceive it will be about. Fantastic writing as well. Very well thought out.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  203 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silence Is Golden and so Is This Tale 9 Dec 2012
By Sandra Brazier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
They say, "Silence is golden." That adage applies to this story. Bonaventure cannot speak, but he `speaks' volumes.

Bonaventure's speech was taken from him when his family suffered a tragedy as he floated in his mother's uterus, growing and waiting to be born. However, he was given other gifts to compensate for this loss. Bonaventure hears colors, and inanimate objects tell him their stories. His life is far from ordinary. Together with Trinidad, a Creole servant, they liberate his suffering family from sadness, anger, and guilt, allowing them to go on with their lives.

Written almost as a fable, this book is gentle and kind, tender and soft-spoken, but what it says is huge! Ms Leganski writes well, and few could have written this book in this wonderful manner. It is a special and unusual book with well developed, albeit extraordinary and exaggerated characters. The subject matter is somewhat bizarre, but it is written in a way that allows the reader to accept what it has to say, while treasuring the way in which it is done. Congratulations, Ms Leganski on this first book, a well- crafted story that needs to be told.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly magnificent debut novel 5 Feb 2013
By Neal Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This author certainly has made a great start with this novel about the curiously named title character. The basic story is delightfully fanciful, telling us about a boy who has fantastically enhanced hearing ability but lacks the power of speech. We're introduced to him in the first chapter while he's still in his mother's womb. The author does a great job of personalizing each of several characters including their backgrounds fully acquainting us with the parents, grandparents,teachers, neighbors, and two mysterious characters called The Wayfarer and the woman healer, Trinidad.

This is a fabulous read. I started it last night and finished reading it this afternoon...it's the sort of book you don't want to put down.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical yet believable, heartwarming characters, lush and lilting prose 19 Feb 2013
By Tracy M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"There were those who ate from homely tin dishes all bumpy with dents, and those who took their meals off of bone china plates .... Bayou Cymbaline is probably best described as a municipal jambalaya - a slow-simmered stew with a hot, tangy flavor from the blending of mixed bloods and Caribbean spice." So wrote Rita Leganski in her evocatively textured novel of strangely gifted, mute child in 1950's southern Louisiana.

Bonaventure Arrow was only seven months in the womb when his father William was murdered by an unknown assailant. The death of her beloved husband nearly shattered young, pregnant Dancy, who as a result "was like a sieve; the only things she could hold were the boiled-down husks of cooked-away happiness, leftovers from a life that had drained through the wires."

What gave her the will to live was the son she soon birthed - a highly sensitive child who could not speak, but who communicated - unknown to her - with the guardian spirit of his father. Young Bonaventure heard the objects around him tell stories of where they had been, and was attuned to the minute subtleties of nature: "Within a year, Bonaventure Arrow could hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops."

For Bonaventure, sight and hearing were completely intertwined: "The red crayon sounded like the trombone in the brass band .... it started out loud and then slid around your ears. The black crayon made a sound like a pancake dropped off a spatula."

In THE SILENCE OF BONAVENTURE ARROW, we enter into the life not only of Bonaventure, but also half a dozen very real, colorful, heartwarming characters including:

DANCY ROMAN ARROW, who is devoted to her son and the memory of her husband, and blames herself for his death;
LETICE ARROW, Dancy's well-to-do mother-in-law, also a widow burdened with guilt and a secret shame, who hires a private investigator to uncover the identity of her son's murderer;
WILLIAM ARROW himself, who throughout most of the novel, is a spirit hanging around "Almost Heaven", watching over Darcy and his son, unwilling to let go of the earth plane and move on;
TRINIDAD PREFONTAINE - an uneducated black Creole woman who has "the Knowing", attunement to the unseen, and the calling to be a healing force in the Arrow family's lives.

In contrast, we also meet the Wanderer, the unnamed, unknown murderer who takes refuge in madness. And we delight in the wicked antics of Adelaide Roman, Dancy's nasty, narrow-minded mother whose hypocritical religiosity is both amusing and appalling.

Author Rita Leganski has brilliantly spun an enchanting, richly textured first novel. Although her Bayou world is replete with magic, spirit communication and psychic phenomena, her lush descriptions and three-dimensional characters suspend our disbelief. They are real to us. We enter their inner lives and feel their pain, love, longing, grief - and moments of transcendence.

In rich, lilting prose, Leganski captures the rhythms of the Bayou and Bonaventure's sensory aliveness. Of Bonaventure's early experience of Trinidad, she tells us, "he thought she was just the right colors: the golden brownness of her skin reminded him of maple syrup, and when she laughed, her pink tongue and very white teeth made him think of a cake."

As a reader who is normally bored with family background information interrupting a storyline, I was surprised to find myself captivated by this novel's backstory - told in a natural, folksy manner which skillfully illuminated the present actions of the characters. Likewise, I was easily drawn into the story's magic due to the ease with which Leganski incorporated spiritual and psychic elements.

But since I have synaesthesia myself (visual/verbal, not visual/aural like Bonaventure), I found myself wishing that the author had not stretched Bonaventure's sensory experience so far that he could hear stars being born, or a piece of dust speak of crossing the the Himalayas on the foot of a goose. Leganski didn't need to go to such lengths to convince us of Bonaventure's special gifts. I also wanted to know how he was able hear tiny sounds miles away without being distracted by the noises of thousands of people nearby. Those of us with synaesthesia often suffer from sensory overload, and lack such ability to filter our experience.

The novel, which has an unhurried, leisurely pace, also slows down too much in the middle. The author could have told the same story at least as effectively in 324 pages, rather than 374.

But these are minor criticisms, likely to detract little from one's reading pleasure.

As we read, we wonder: Why does Letice blame herself for William's death? Who is the Wanderer and why did he kill William? How will Bonaventure, William and Trinidad all contribute to the healing of the Arrow family? What has to happen for William's spirit to leave the earth plane and for Dancy to love again?

The rich prose, the character development and our desire to know the answers to these questions are likely to keep us turning the pages and finishing this novel in only a few sittings. THE SILENCE OF BONAVENTURE ARROW, by a talented new fiction writer, is an absolute delight. Do not miss it.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Premise Leads To An Unusual Story 31 Jan 2013
By Agatha Christie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book tells the story of Bonaventure Arrow, an eight year old boy who is mute yet has hypersensitive hearing. That is just the beginning of the story. Bonaventure lives with his mother Darcy and paternal grandmother Letice in a home that is filled with an underlying feeling of sadness. While in his mother's womb Bonaventure's father William was shot to death by an intruder.
Bonaventure's inability to speak might appear to be quiet and devoid of color and life, but his acute sense of hearing leads to conversations with the dead namely the dearly departed William. Bonaventure picks up on the feelings and thoughts of others. He also sees inanimate objects taking on lives of their own.
When Trinidad Fontaine comes to the home as the family cook, Bonaventure realizes that his skills and the mystical talents of Trinidad compliment one another and can be combined to help both his mother and grandmother from the grief they've been harboring. What results is an often mystical/supernatural resolution to the things that have haunted the home's residents.
I liked this book a lot. It was well written but the author tended to overwork the conversations and thoughts that circulated in Bonaventure's mind. I found myself losing focus when this happened.
Generally speaking, if these conversations hadn't at times gotten out of hand, this would have been a 5* review.
Still, this is a good book with slight overtones of the South of Faulkner, Willams, and McCullers and a lot of fantasy and mysticism thrown in.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breaking The Rules In All The Right Ways!! 8 Nov 2012
By Yolanda S. Bean - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Books that break the adage of "Show, Don't Tell" rarely work. But, somehow this massive amount of telling, coupled with little actual showing, works wonderfully well here! This debut novel which is steeped in magical realism in a rich, Louisiana setting provides a charmingly entertaining read. The Southern flair and hints of magic function impressively well to make this book such an absorbing read. That Southern setting and flair is all the more impressive considering the author currently resides in the Chicagoland area and grew up in Wisconsin - hardly Bayou country. But the heavy-handed narration and the lush setting combine to create a really entertaining and lovely book.

Leganski's style pays homage to Alice Hoffman (Hoffman is even listed in the "bonus" materials as one of Leganski's favourite authors), but this novel is a lot more enjoyable and skillfully put together than the last few Hoffman novels that I have read. And while some elements of the plot are fairly predictable (the identity of the Wanderer, for example), the strength of the narrative itself never once so much as stumbles. I definitely plan on keeping an eye out for Leganski's sophomore novel!
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