The Bone People Paperback – 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
I know that some people found that the mysticism in the latter section of the novel took away from the book. I disagree. I found that it fit in well with the story and helped flesh out some of the messages the author was trying to get across. Some of the imagery in this novel is absolutely breathtaking. I have never been so utterly moved and transfixed by a novel as I have by this one. It challenged my perceptions and it made me a different person when I was finished it.
The book is quite long, and it can be slow in a few spots. I found that I had to read it twice. I admit I did hate Joe the first time I read the novel; I really only began to understand him the second time I read the book. This is a complex, multi-layered work that speaks to a wide range of issues: child abuse, spirituality, community, and culture.
I highly recommend this novel to everyone. You may not like it or agree with it, but you will be impacted by it. It still haunts me today.
These three become involved with each other in a dance of death and destruction and a battle for redemption of the human spirit. They make up the family of man or the bone people, brittle ungiving beings who are attempting to fight the isolation of their souls and find fulfillment in involving themselves with each other. These three are represented by a woman Keri the artist, a man Joe the lost warrior and the child, Simon the hope for the future. Can they join together and heal each other or will they work to cause each other's destruction. That is the question of the Bone People.
Keri Hulme's has a gift with words. Her stream of consciousness writing is beautiful and compelling. Despite the beauty of her words, the story is harrowing and heart breaking. We so often hurt those who we love most. The assault on young Simon is a violence both verbal and brutally physical. Are the young resilient in nature or are they brittle and easily broken? Is the child truly the savior of the man? These are questions which Hulme's seems to ask.
Throughout the book the theme of family is recurrent. What comprises a family and what obligations do family members have to each other. The family is a bright promise kept , a joining of human lives and spirits. The members of the bone people are drawn to their own isolation. They have found diverse methods of self destruction and use them skillfully. The reader journeys through the book simultaneously loving and hating the members of this strange family.
I cannot help but recommend this book, but with the precaution that it is quite difficult reading, both in plot and style.
For me, The Bone People is a meditation about the destructive effects of closing oneself to others, of retreating and withdrawing so far into oneself that one is no longer capable of real communication and communion with others.
Each of the three protagonists, because of excessive pain, pain that goes beyond any words, has built and retreated into what he or she hopes will be a protective shell but finds instead a nightmare world, one that leads each to the very brink of death.
I have heard some people say they believe the ending to be trite or "tacked on." I found the ending absolutely perfect, and given each character's "trial by fire," I don't know how Hulme could have written the ending any differently and still maintained the integrity of her book.
I am sure there are many Maori legends, myths and references in The Bone People that I missed as I know little about this fascinating culture. But do not let a lack of Maori knowledge stop you from reading this superb book. It is, above all else, a wonderfully insightful character study that is rich, complex and filled with love and pain beyond measure.Read more ›
At its heart, The Bone People is a romance but it is also a story that takes a look at the dark and serious side of life as well, especially child abuse. No one should be put off by its sometimes depressing subject matter, though. The Bone People is a book that, surprisingly and wonderfully, always manages to celebrate life in all of its complexity. In fact, much of it is lyrically beautiful despite the darkness of some of its themes.
The Bone People is extraordinarily well-written (enough so to garner Hulme a Booker Prize). This is a book with a style and voice all its own, something highly unusual in a first novel. But, unlike some recent novels, The Bone People is never a case of style-over-substance; Hulme weaves her magic with both her engrossing story and her unique, almost stream-of-consciousness style. There are a lot of shifts in time and perspective in this novel but they are always smooth and perfectly placed. Nothing about The Bone People seems jarring or out-of-place. Hulme's prose is almost musical: andante, adagio, allegro, and we find ourselves reading to the cadence she sets.
The Bone People has an extraordinary and wonderful sense of place. Part of this is inherent in the New Zealand setting and the Maori words that decorate the text. The beach scenes are especially well-written and we can really smell the sea and feel the warmth of the sand between our toes.
A few things about The Bone People might seem disjointed at first.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I had originally read this as a library book. Liked it so much I had to buy it. My favorite author is Tim Winton and Keri Hulme's work is now just behind him. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Island Girl
This was the most haunting book I have ever read. The characters became so real that they returned to my thoughts for months after I had completed reading. Read morePublished on Dec 30 2005
The Bone People, unfortunately, is not very well written. The "poetry" seems to consist of run-on sentences and a somewhat pretentious neo-primtivism. Read morePublished on March 16 2004 by Victor Cresskill
I enjoyed this book. It made me laugh a lot. Our main character is a funny, irreverant gal with deep problems. Read morePublished on March 6 2004
A true piece of artwork. On the edition I have one of the comments from reviewers calles Hulme a poet, I couldn't agree more. Read morePublished on May 10 2002 by Laura
Blech! It's as though Keri Hulme transcribed a hazily remembered dream/nightmare. So much was utterly foreign and the author was no help at all, so concerned with melding prose... Read morePublished on May 7 2002 by Pherenike
Kerein, Joe and Simon are the stars of The Bone People. The Maori tradition and way of life in New Zealand is slowpaced. Read morePublished on Feb. 19 2002
This is the kind of book for one who likes to read.I have read it 4 times over the past 10 years and I get new things out of it each time I read it.Published on Feb. 18 2002
I bought this book while visiting New Zealand on the recommendation of a friend who had never actually read any of Hulme's work. Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2001 by Ellen C. Falkenberry