cover image Bone China

Bone China

Roma Tearne, . . Europa, $16 (392pp) ISBN 978-1-933372-75-4

Like her first novel, Mosquito , Tearne's initially engrossing newest is rooted in strife-torn 20th-century Ceylon/Sri Lanka. This time she tackles a three-generation family saga, the island's independence from Britain and subsequent civil war, with mixed results. By 1939, Aloysius de Silva has gambled away most of wife Grace's inherited wealth, and his recklessness has far-reaching consequences. The appropriately named Grace sits at the heart of the story; equally clear-minded and romantic, she has her hands full with her children: Jacob and Christopher's aspirations are snuffed out by the financial losses; Thornton relies on charm and a winning smile; Alicia is a gifted pianist with big dreams; and quiet Frieda struggles to find an identity for herself in her vivacious family. Later comes Savitha, who marries Thornton and captures Grace's heart. There's much love in this family, and much tragedy around them, but by the time Thornton, Savitha and their daughter, Meeka, follow Thornton's brothers to the U.K., the story becomes a less inspired immigrant story. Tearne describes the beauty and devastation of Sri Lanka with passion and insight, but things quickly get dull in the U.K. (July)