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The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow: A Novel

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow: A Novel

Scris de Rita Leganski

Povestit de Maggi-Meg Reed


The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow: A Novel

Scris de Rita Leganski

Povestit de Maggi-Meg Reed

evaluări:
3.5/5 (11 evaluări)
Lungime:
11 hours
Lansat:
May 14, 2013
ISBN:
9780062291134
Format:
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Descriere

Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn't make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. No one knows that Bonaventure's silence is filled with resonance-a miraculous gift of rarefied hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound. Growing up in the big house on Christopher Street in Bayou Cymbaline, Bonaventure can hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops. He can also hear the gentle voice of his father, William Arrow, shot dead before Bonaventure was born by a mysterious stranger known only as the Wanderer.

Bonaventure's remarkable gift of listening promises salvation to the souls who love him: his beautiful young mother, Dancy, haunted by the death of her husband; his Grand-mère Letice, plagued by grief and a long-buried guilt she locks away in a chapel; and his father, William, whose roaming spirit must fix the wreckage of the past. With the help of Trinidad Prefontaine, a Creole housekeeper endowed with her own special gifts, Bonaventure will find the key to long-buried mysteries and soothe a chorus of family secrets clamoring to be healed.
Lansat:
May 14, 2013
ISBN:
9780062291134
Format:
Carte audio

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Despre autor

Rita Leganski holds an MA in writing and publishing and a BA in literary studies and creative writing from DePaul University. She teaches a writing workshop at DePaul's School for New Learning and was a recipient of the Arthur Weinberg Memorial Prize for a work of historical fiction.


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  • (4/5)
    There is something absolutely spellbinding in this book. The words flow like music and wrap the reader in a world made of laughs, love, tears, death and poetry, a touch of magic that never becomes silly or overpowering but which captures the imagination and reminds us of all the wonder in the world.The story is beautifully crafted with the right amount of suspense and character development; the secrets are alluded to without overwhelming the plot and when revealed are evoked with delicacy and care - these are not for shock value but rather to confirm the feelings and further knit the relationships.Absolutely enchanting.
  • (4/5)
    Rita Leganski's The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is a wholly wonderful novel. It's an addictive, powerful, and touching story. HarperCollins always delivers when it comes to publishing high quality adult fiction, and The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is no exception!The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow delves into the dark and frightening unknowns of our world. The characters are at the mercy of the power of the universe, of God, of religion, and of our own human weaknesses. Bonaventure is born a mute, Dancy is a lonely, guilt-ridden single mother, Adelaide is a religious fanatic... there are many tragedies and trials to endure in life. The best we can do is learn to live with our lot, to always do right by our family and friends, and to press on with life.The story is beautifully written, filled with colourful characters that you immediately fall in love with. Leganski constructs a world so real and tragic, it's easy to lose yourself in her writing. I loved how the story shows how we affect other people over time and space. Leganski shows how we can never full anticipate how our actions will alter the course of the future. From page one to the gripping conclusion, I was hooked by this moving story. Rita Leganski is a masterful storyteller. I finished this novel days ago, but the ending has stuck with me. This book more than exceeded my expectations. Rita Leganski has given the world a brilliant and magical debut. I highly recommend this novel!4 Stars
  • (2/5)
    Okay book, I'm pretty sure it was me and not you. Listen, I saw you and you were beautiful, and I wanted you right away. I couldn't resist your allure, your magical realism. I had to have you in my life. Now, though, I realize that I should have gotten to know you better first, before we committed to one another in any meaningful way. You really are beautiful inside and out, but just not in a way I can fully appreciate.

    What I can say is that the writing in The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is beautiful. Simply lovely. Leganski's writing style plays into the feeling of magical realism perfectly, and the way she puts together sentences has a magic all its own. Her debut proves her writing chops, and I would be willing to consider reading whatever her next novel is, solely on the strength of her prose.

    The book's opening captured me immediately, reminding me a good deal of Fitzgerald's short story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" mixed with the southern charm of Sarah Addison Allen. The idea of a child, mute but intended for some big purpose, seems fraught with possibility. Unfortunately, the story then jumps back and spends almost the whole of the novel in the backstory of his mother and grandmothers. I never did find myself especially interested in any character but Bonaventure Arrow himself, and he didn't turn out to be much of a focus in the novel.

    Bonaventure, in addition to being silent, has super hearing. He can hear everything, from falling stars to his father's ghost. Supposedly, this will allow him to do something quite special and live up to his saintly name. His counterpart of sorts, in the sense that they both have special abilities, is Trinidad, a much older black woman. She sees visions, Knowings, and practices hoodoo, which allows her to help people with natural herbs. Her hoodoo is remarkably similar to the effects of Vianne's chocolates in Chocolat. These elements are fantastic, but I don't feel like they served any actual purpose to the plot whatsoever. They seem merely to be there to make the setting more vibrant.

    Actually, the only real plot seems to involve Bonaventure's father. William dies before Bonaventure's birth, shot by a mysterious, insane man. His mother and wife are trying to allay their guilt, the former by trying to figure out the identity of his killer. Meanwhile, William, in some sort of purgatory, watches over his family, and communicates with his son. The whole book seems mostly to be about him moving on to the next world. Rather than magical realism, this is much more of a ghost story.

    What lost me, most heartily though, was all of the Christianity in the novel. No, it's not preachy, but it's incredibly boring. As I said, I couldn't be bothered about the backstory of the grandmothers, and their pasts are all wrapped up in their fervent religious beliefs. Every character isn't Christian, and it doesn't seem like Leganski's trying to say anything about it, but I just had no fucks to give about any of it. Like so much else in the novel, I just don't see why I had to sit through all of that when it doesn't seem to have had a big impact on the plot overall.

    The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is a gorgeously-written novel, but suffers from a weak plot that tries to do too many things without tying them together. I might read more Leganski someday, but this one did not work for me.
  • (5/5)
    Thank you , thank you Rita Leganski for writing this wonderful and magical novel, In a week that has seen so much tragedy in so many places, involving so may people, I was sorely in need of a little magic. This novel features some wonderful people, not least little Bonaventure Arrow who cannot speak but can hear things other people cannot. The prose is like liquid, it flows fluently and freely. Yet all is not sweetness and light, it is New Orleans in the 1950's, a place of root and voodoo and hoodoo and some strange going ons. There are family secrets, religion and sadness and one particular dark happening that will tragically effect the future. Ultimately there is a secret and once that is found there will be forgiveness and love and new chances at life. I often see authors asked what one novel did they wish they could read again for the first time. I wish I could start this one over but alas. I may have found one of the few books I can see myself reading again.
  • (5/5)
    This book is truly magical, and I'm so glad that I took the time to read it. It's unlike any other book that I've ever read. Little Bonaventure Arrow is a wonderful creation and even though there is a lot of magic, mystery, unexplained happenings, supernatural occurences, voodoo and hoodoo in this book, he is so realistic and so very loveable. The setting is a little place called Bayou Cymbaline in the 1950's. I love the deep south references throughout the book and the glimpse it gives into the rich Creole and Louisiana culture. I love the characters that live in this book. I just loved the book for the wonderful story, and for the sense of hope and happiness that permeates throughout. This is a book that reminded me of why I am such a bookaholic. Bonaventure is born from sadness, but there is so much hope and promise emanating from this one little boy. His father was shot down by an apparent stranger just before Bonaventure makes his entry into the world. This sudden violent act forever changes Bonaventure's mother and grandmother, and shapes Bonaventure's life. Bonaventure cannot speak, but his ability to hear and understand is beyond any normal human's. Even though he's only seven he manages to determine what the old buried secrets are that have hampered his mother and grandmother from living a normal, happy life. Bonaventure, along with a wonderful black woman called Trinidad, work together to heal these old wounds and to provide hope for these two women. A truly magical story that will leave me forever touched. If you love to read, then you absolutely must read this enchanting book.
  • (1/5)
    I will give the book 1 star for effort on the author's part. I imagine it takes a lot of effort to write a book, but I honestly did not enjoy the book. It is rare for me not to finish reading a book. I tried several times to make it through this book and gave up on page 136. My book club chose this book to read for the month of August as it had some great reviews and the storyline sounded unusual and intriguing. Last night we had our book meet; 6 attended, 2 finished reading it, and all 6 felt it was convoluted, and simply just boring. A disappointment, but oh well, we tried.
  • (5/5)
    Reading this book was like tasting an exotic food I've never had before. You have that split second where your taste buds are indecisive, where it could go either way. But this book was rich and delicious. Lush and lyrical. Sometimes the lyrical prose was a little overpowering, trying too hard, and over-the-top, yet other times I read and reread a line because it was so beautiful. I highly recommend this story. Characters are well thought out and well drawn. It's a different kind of story. Magical in a believable way. It beckons you to lay aside your cynicism and believe in good magic, pulls you in. Heartwarming and heartbreaking at times. Great read for summer on the porch with the cicadas buzzing.
  • (3/5)
    Here's the quintessential sultry, Southern novel of the summer with a dash of supernatural. Bonaventure Arrow is born silent and in the South with lots of family trauma all around him. His silence speaks volumes to the way we keep our skeletons deep in the closet and our trauma roam around like fleas. His gift of silence as well as the author's rich spiritual nuances add to the characters journey to forgiveness and transformation. My only critique is there are some moments that seem sappy, and I can see how this might turn into a "you'll like it or hate it" type novel.
  • (3/5)
    Bonaventure Arrow never made a sound from the time he was born. It was the 1950s and his mother Dancy gave birth to him only after her new husband was murdered. They moved in with her mother-in-law, as Dancy didn't really get along with her own mother, and they both tried to come to grips with William's death. But, William was still hanging around and though Bonaventure couldn't speak, he had super-hearing and did talk to his dad. It was ok. I'm not a big fan of magical realism, so I'm sure that's part of it. It was kind of a slow-moving, though I was curious to find out the identity of William's murderer (though I did guess it ahead of time). I also enjoyed the setting, as much of it took place in New Orleans.
  • (4/5)
    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.The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is not a book to be rushed through; instead it should be savoured and enjoyed. Leganski's writing flows so easily. Her prose are beautiful and lyrical, and I often went back to read them a second time. The love between Bonaventure's parents was beautifully depicted. I very much enjoyed Leganski's descriptions of what Bonaventure hears. It's a nudge to remind us to stop and listen - and not simply hear. The book is set in 1950's New Orleans and I was fascinated by the setting, culture, description and exploration of the city, but also of hoodoo, voodoo and Catholicism. Leganski weaves a unique and magical tale exploring love, loss, guilt, forgiveness and redemption in an utterly unique and magical voice. A fantastic debut and an easy recommendation. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow. Fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen would enjoy this novel.
  • (3/5)
    When I first began reading this novel I was delighted by its disregard for a common reality. Rita Leganski’s prose slips through that narrow space between the seen, and the unseen but suspected world, as fluid and sinuous as an asp.

    From the back cover: 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 together, and threaten to tear them apart.

    I was excited by this book when I opened it. The element of magical realism was not something I’d encountered or expected in a selection from Shereads (for whom I read and reviewed this book). Most of the selections so far have been a more traditional women’s lit, so this one offered a welcome changeup. Unfortunately, for me, I felt the story took too long to get started, and the climax when it came, a vivid forced abortion scene involving characters who are each either insane (Calypso), self-serving and the very epitome of banal evil (Emmaline) or hateful and murderous (Suville—the abortionist) was both the best writing in the entire book, and a terrible let down in its transparent preachy-ness.

    “Follow me,” she said, leading mother and daughter into a small room that held a bed draped in very white sheets and a small table that was draped in its own white cloth. Upon that table there rested a tray, and upon the tray there rested what looked at first glance like a piece of shiny cutlery. That is not what it was at all. It was a curette, a small instrument for cleansing a surface. That is the definition Suville offered to her clients if they asked; personally, she thought of it as a blade and loved how nicely it fit in her hand. Whenever she held it or even just caught a glimpse of it from the corner of her eye, Suville always thought the same thing: how feminine, how powerful, how elegant and deadly.

    Really nice writing. The deceptive purity of the “very white sheets” draping the table where the abortion will take place; and the image of the difference in how the abortionist describes the curette to her clients, contrasted with how she really thinks of it, and how she enjoys (loves) using it with murderous intent. But this darkness comes to us on page 306, of an otherwise slow tale, and is an abrupt departure in tone.

    Suville came to the room and began to bathe her patient, pouring water over Letice’s outer womb. Suville had entered a trance of her own, one in which she saw herself as the reincarnated John the Baptist. But Suville was nothing of the kind (a bit of author intrusion here as a judgement is delivered). Suville Jean-Baptiste brought no babies to life; Suville Jean-Baptiste took babies to death.

    Again though; still pretty good writing. But, there’s a feeling of now getting to the point—no pun intended.

    There’s a lot of religion sprinkled throughout the novel. It dips into Voodoo, Hoodoo, Evangelical Christianity, and Catholicism (did I leave any out?) as if straining toward a homogenization to avoid any prejudice. But none of it feels emotionally honest; more like ingredients added following a recipe, in an attempt to cover all the bases.

    Some of the characters are very well done: The evil, mail-opening, homo-hating, weirdo Adelaide Roman is fun and awful, and awfully fun. And the character of Bonaventure is as lovely as the saint he is named after. It is in the character of Bonaventure that the reader gets a glimmer of what feels like authentic spirituality, through both the unforced descriptions of his awareness of beauty, and his gentleness.

    This writer’s strengths: Miss Laganski’s prose is often charming, especially her imaginative descriptions of the beauty of Creation. Her power though, came through strongest, and most honestly, when she wrote about her characters’ inner darkness.

    Who will enjoy this book? Readers who enjoy magical prose, unconstrained by accepted reality. Those who like a lot of backstory and going into how a character became who they are.

  • (5/5)
    I read this book as part of the She Reads book club. I was excited to read a book I hadn’t picked myself, but also a little nervous- the story seemed a little different. I was floored by Rita Leganski’s debut novel. From the very first page, I couldn’t put the book down.Newly born Bonaventure arrow is doesn’t make a sound, even though he is frightened by the sudden change in his environment. Instead, he listens. He hears strange and different sounds, and then the heartbeat of his mother. So begins the extraordinary life of Bonaventure, who doesn’t speak, but can hear everything, including his dead father, who speaks to him, and guides him along his life. Bonaventure hears EVERYTHING- grass growing, clouds, sunshine. He can also hear secrets. Along with his father, and healer Trinidad Prefontaine, Bonaventure helps his family heal from old hurts and secrets.The backdrop of magical New Orleans, along with voodoo and the mystical, really pulled me in. I love stories of New Orleans and the surrounding area. Rita Leganski did an wonderful job, not only of describing the place, but also the fell of this wonderful city. The author also has an amazing way of describing the things Bonaventure hears-“Within a year, Bonaventure Arrow could hear the flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops.”I am usually a fast reader, but found myself deliberately going slow with this book, to appreciate the wonderful way with words the author had. Bonaventure isn’t the only one described so well. His Grandmother Roman, a hypocrite with only her own well being in mind, is a source of tension throughout the story. ”Adelaide Roman was certain of her soul’s perfection, and so felt comfortable pointing out the iniquities committed by others. To that end, she brought religion with her wherever she went, including her job at the United Staes Post Office.”Altogether, this is a wonderful story about hope, magic, love, and forgiveness.
  • (3/5)
    This would have been a magical 200 page book instead it was a 378 page Oh Get On With It book. I actually think we could have skipped Grandma Roman all together and not lost a thing. I also didn’t need to know every little thing Bonaventure could hear it was plenty when he told his dad I heard a worm blink today and such, the author could have just added a few of the big ones into his conversations with William and it would have been plenty.BUT…I loved Bonaventure he was an amazing little boy and if the author had went with less is more this probably would have been a 5 star book but as it is it will be much less than that. I also enjoyed Trinidad and wish there would have been a little more of her. As I said above I think this book could have done with major editing and I think if they would have concentrated on the people living in the house (including Trinidad) and skipped Adelaide all together it would have tightened up the story and made me care more. There were parts of this book that shined for me but by far the majority of it didn’t, I’d say if you like lots of descriptions and pretty prose you may like this book as for me it fell flat.2 ½ stars
  • (3/5)
    2.5**

    Before he is born, Bonaventure Arrow’s father is murdered by a mentally disturbed man known only as “the Wanderer.” His mother’s unspeakable grief affects Bonaventure’s development – he is born mute, but with hyper-acute hearing. He can hear earthworms moving through the dirt and a bit of dust falling off a moth’s wing. He can also hear the stories that inanimate objects tell – the sound of steamships comes from a wooden crate marked “port of New Orleans,” and the sounds of gunshots from a jar of sassafras. And he hears the sadness and secrets of his paternal grandmother’s house.

    Helping him make sense of these sounds are two extraordinary characters – the ghost of his father, William Arrow, whom only Bonaventure can hear, and the family’s cook, Trinidad Prefontaine, who is a Creole woman knowledgeable about hoodoo and root work.

    Leganski’s work is hard to describe. It has elements of Southern gothic, as well as the supernatural and magic. When I first heard that the central character is a mute child, I immediately thought of David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. But this novel is nowhere near so fine a work of literature as Wroblewski’s. I think Leganski got too caught up in the “magical” quality of Bonaventure’s extraordinary hearing. She spends way too much time crafting beautiful descriptions of his abilities – and they are beautiful. But, how does reading about a dust mote’s story of being carried across the Himalayas on the foot of a goose help this story? The answer is it doesn’t. These type of passages (and there are many) showcase Leganski’s imagination and ability to write creatively, but they interfere with the story. They do nothing to develop the characters or advance the plot. They are unnecessary distractions.

    There is a nugget of a great premise here. I like how she used the innocence of a child to help the wounded adults around him heal. I liked that Bonaventure was surrounded by people who loved him and nurtured him – maternal grandmother notwithstanding. I wish she had spent more time developing the story, and less time expounding on Bonaventure’s unusual hearing abilities. I was interested and caught up in the plot at the beginning, but then felt she would never get to the point. By the time the identity of William’s killer was revealed I just didn’t really care. Had I been her editor, I would have deleted close to a hundred pages. I would have deleted the maternal grandmother’s storyline and expanded on his teacher’s growing relationship with his mother. I would also have advised her to make more use of Trinidad, who doesn’t join the family until half-way through the novel.

    I get that Leganski was going for an ethereal quality, but I think she went too far in that direction and forgot the story.

    NOTE: I don't usually "round-up" when I give a 1/2 star rating, but the quality of Leganski's writing shows promise, so I did in this case.