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The White Bone Paperback – Dec 19 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Harpercollins Trade Sales Dept; 1 edition (Dec 19 2002)
  • ISBN-10: 0006392334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006392330
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #608,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on Oct. 24 2002
Format: Paperback
The key, I think, to understanding and enjoying this wonderful novel lies in the quote from author Joy Williams that appears on the back cover: 'This sorrowful novel does holy work because it engages us in that holiest of acts - empathy'. Rarely have I come across a creation as beautiful as this book - or as sad. The reviewers below who take issue with the 'lack of plot' and the mourning that seems to occur on every other page should stop for just a moment and think about the world in which elephants live - a world that has seemingly focused itself on their destruction as a species, all for the prize of their ivory tusks. There are laws in place today to make an attempt to stem this slaughter - but poaching remains a constant threat, and more aggressive steps are obviously needed to save these gentle creatures.
The world that Barbara Gowdy has imagined in this book is not one that leaps merely from her imagination - a look at her acknowledgements at the end of the novel will reveal this. She has definitely done her homework, and her work here has its roots in science and reality - which makes the scope of her creation all the more amazing. She has brought to life not just the surface of the elephants' lives - she has envisioned and made very real the structures of their society, their thought processes, the various methods with which they communicate (both with each other and with members of other species), and even a vast system of mythology, embodying legends, 'links' (omens, signs and folk wisdom), a vast knowledge of their natural world, and even the concept of a creative deity. This might sound like quite a feat for the author to pull off - and it is, but she does so with breathtaking success.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Tims on Jan. 1 2005
Format: Paperback
A profound and inventive book. Gowdy's choice of speaking to the human condition through the medium of an extended family of elephants is unusual, to say the least, but ultimately rewarding. A challanging but deeply satisfying read. In my opinion, this is Gowdy at her best.
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By Phyllis Mcnaughton on June 7 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A friend recommended this book -- it was a gift for a family member . Good reading for those who care about other living soula .
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was very interesting and a tear jerker. I totally fell in love with some of the characters and shed some tears. Makes you sympathize with the animals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fran on July 25 2011
Format: Paperback
A story about families of elephants searching for the "White Bone", a sacred object which has led the elephants for hundreds of years. Families must fight for their lives against the "killing things" who want their tusks and feet and leave the rest to rot. Some members of different clans who have escaped the slaughters are now wandering, searching for other survivors.

This is a wonderful book. Full of joy and sorrow. I smiled and cried, and cried some more. Barbra Gowdy has been criticized for writing this book, saying she was trying to make this into non-fiction. There are some truths in the book otherwise it would just be another non-fiction appealing to a different group of readers But it is a well balanced, truly fascinating, hard to put down book. I give it 10/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jillian Gillece on Sept. 26 2002
Format: Paperback
Barbara Gowdy never ceases to amaze me. Having read her previous books, I did not believe that she could spin such another different tale. Her agility in presenting such an immense topic astounds me.
From the opening pages the reader becomes engrossed in an entire world of elephants that Gowdy spins with incredible dexterity. The elephants are graceful, powerful, but still susceptible to loss and defeat. The descriptions of the animals leave the reader breathless as they embark on the journey for a myth that becomes reality. An epic story that stirs the heart. The fact that Gowdy is capable of creating new words and phrases brings the reader further into the world of the magnificent creatures. It is virtually impossible to not become amazed by the perceptions that Gowdy presents through the characters. The break-down of the different groups is reflective of the societal break down of the human world.
An intense work that is a dazzling commentary on the roles of individuals in a society, shown through a unique perspective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eleni Otto on Nov. 25 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an unusual story, and it requires you to open your mind to a different way of thinking about things (thus some of the complaints from some readers about it being "slow, etc.".... but if you love elephants and you can accept a different way of listening to (reading) a story, you will enjoy The White Bone and the elephant's persepective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Hepburn on April 15 2000
Format: Hardcover
This novel is difficult to describe. For lack of a better or more precise genre term I'll label as sci-fi.
What it really is, is an elegant excursion into a world where the speaking characters are elephants. the entire story is told from inside the minds of, or from the viewpoints of, the elephants involved.
A few families go in search of "The Safe Place" where elephants can live unmolested and have a plentiful food supply. As they conduct their search they are revealed as individuals with quirks and prejudices you will recognize as common among humans. They have a set of religious beliefs which guide them.
The setting is Africa in the midst of the worst drought in sixty-five years. There are numerous adventures and mishaps; successes and failures; births and deaths.
This is a unique and startling piece of work well worth reading if you're inclined to such material.
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