Synopses & Reviews
Faith or delusion? Fantasy or fact? From the winner of the 2009 Orange New Writers Award comes a profound meditation on the nature of faith and a riveting story of religious passion gone tragically wrong in London.
When word gets out that Mary-Margaret O’Reilly, a somewhat slow-witted but apparently harmless young woman, may have been witness to a miracle, religious mania descends on the Church of the Sacred Heart by the River Thames in Battersea, London. The consequences will be profound, not only for Mary-Margaret herself but for others too—Father Diamond, the parish priest, who is in the midst of his own lonely crisis of faith, and Stella Morrison, adrift in a loveless marriage and aching for her ten-year old son, away at boarding school. Meanwhile another mother, Alice Armitage, counts the days until her soldier son comes home from Afghanistan, and Mary-Margaret’s mother, Fidelma, imprisoned in her tower block, stares out over London through her window for hour after hour with nothing but her thoughts for company.
This is an exquisite novel about passion and isolation, about the nature of belief, about love and motherhood and a search for truth that goes tragically wrong. Mary-Margaret’s desperate attempt to prove that Jesus loves her will change lives in a shocking way. Can anything that is good come out of it; can faith survive sacrifice and pain?
Francesca Kay has crafted a novel that is by turns sly and profound. Her crystalline prose unlocks secrets about our capacity to believe and to love. She is a writer who surprises and delights with her language and her stories.
“Kay lays out a moving consideration of devotion and loss.” —New York Times Book Review
“What begins as the small mystery of one woman’s vision (ordelusion) explodes into a deeper story about how people cope with grief andloss.” —The Washington Post
“Fiercely lyrical yet exceedingly tough-minded…stark andunforgettable.” —Chicago Tribune
"You do not need to share the beliefs of Kay’s characters to be deeply affected by their stories….skillfully constructed and beautifully written book, which is as much concerned with common humanity as it is with individual faith.” --The Sunday Times
“If Francesca Kay’s second novel were a piece of music, it would be a requiem, finding the poetry, perhaps even the glory, in loss and despair. Which is not to say that her novel is depressing or gloomy-far from it. In its depiction of a community grappling with the pain of what it means to be human, it is a novel which manages to be both poignant and uplifting….You don’t have to be religious to be moved by Kay’s elegantly calibrated writing.” -The Telegraph
“An Equal Stillness won Kay the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers. The faith-and-family subject matter of her second book could make The Translation of the Bones feel rather old-fashioned. Yet, though Kay’s novel is emotional, it’s not sentimental and it never lingers on the spot. This combination of feeling and structural restraint seems rather new, or just unfamiliar.” --The Financial Times (U.K.)
‘The Translation of the Bones is a well-tempered exploration of the haphazard, the religious and the mad…in beautifully musical sentences.” --The Daily Telegraph
“Poignancy, lyricism and elegant spiritual debate characterize this impressive if slender novel.” —Dallas Morning News
Now in paperback, a profound novel about the nature of faith and motherhood that “begins as the small mystery of one woman’s vision (or delusion) and explodes into a deeper story” (The Washington Post).
Mary-Margaret O’Reilly is seemingly a harmless enough young woman, ready and willing to help out Father Diamond in the Sacred Heart church in Battersea. She may not be very bright, and she is sadly overweight, but she can certainly clean, and is very good with children.
It is the statue of Jesus on the cross Mary-Margaret is especially drawn to, and one day she decides to give Him a thorough and loving cleansing. But then moments later she lies unconscious, a great gash in her head, blood on the floor. Word gets out that she has witnessed a miracle and soon a full-scale religious mania descends on the quiet church, and everyone, from Father Diamond to his small but loyal band of parishioners, is affected by it. After recovering, Mary-Margaret returns to the church, and obsessively, back to the statue of Jesus. He has told her things, things she must act on, and urgently. The act she decides on is a shocking one, making The Translation of the Bones a riveting story of passion gone tragically wrong.
WHEN WORD GETS OUT THAT MARY-MARGARET O’REILLY, a somewhat slow-witted but harmless woman, may have been witness to a miracle, religious mania descends on the Church of the Sacred Heart in Battersea, London. The consequences reverberate through the community—touching the lives of the parish priest; a woman adrift in a loveless marriage and aching for her ten-year-old son, away at boarding school; a mother counting the days until her soldier son comes home from Afghanistan; and Mary-Margaret’s mother, who, imprisoned in her tower block, stares out over the city through her window for hour after hour with nothing but her thoughts for company. It is Mary-Margaret’s desperate attempt to prove that Jesus loves her that will change all of these lives in a shocking way.
In this riveting story of misguided passion gone tragically wrong, Francesca Kay offers a profound meditation on the nature of faith, love and motherhood. Written in crystalline prose, The Translation of the Bones unlocks secrets about our capacity to believe and to love.
About the Author
Francesca Kay’s first novel, An Equal Stillness, won the Orange Award for New Writers in 2009. She lives in Oxford with her family.