Leaning, leaning over water

by Frances Itani | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0006392504 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Pooker3 of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 3/30/2009
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6 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Monday, March 30, 2009
The cover art on this book could almost be a photo of myself and my younger sister at the lake. Uncanny really. I hope the book gives me a similar little jolt.

Journal Entry 2 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Friday, July 31, 2009
I absolutely loved this book, pure pleasure in every page. Over the past few weeks since reading it, I've been trying to assess why that is so. I had read Poached Egg on Toast, also a book of stories, several years ago and I know that I was not totally enamored with that whole book. Some of the stories in Poached Egg I remember as being absolutely wonderful (and the impetus for me buying this particular book), but others I was unable to relate to.

Likely part of the reason, is that Leaning is, as the subtitle suggests, "A Novel in Ten Stories" whereas the Poached Egg stories were not and they were set in a variety of places, some of which were totally alien to me. Now, Leaning is set in rural Quebec along the Ottawa River. The stories begin just after the father moves his English famiy there. I've never been to Quebec and, while as a child I experienced lots of moves, I've never experienced a move that would be particularly culturally different. Nevertheless, I was able to move the whole King family (mom, dad and their three children, Lyd, Trude and Eddie) into my world by Lake of the Woods and the Winnipeg River. The stories are essentially growing up stories told by Trude, the middle child or as her parents refer to her, the child-between. A lovely term that. It gives the middle child a special place. As the oldest child in my own family, I always thought I was special. I had a role that I sometimes resented but always felt special or important because of it. I suspect my younger brothers and sisters would have benefited from having a special place too. Trude has a special role too; she is the family's story teller/the interpreter of the family's history and memories.

I was reminded of Margaret Laurence's and Alice Munro's coming of age stories, which I also loved and just the word, "leaning" in the title brought to mind one of my all time favourite books, Surfacing by Margaret Atwood.

My favourite of the stories was "Bolero". Like Trude's mother, my mother sewed. As a child I had several boleros. And like Trude, I remember watching my mother "dress up" to go out - not to anywhere fancy, just "out" with other neighbour/friend couples.

With all these familiar-to-me factors working in its favour, I suppose the book couldn't fail me and it didn't.

Journal Entry 3 by Pooker3 at Park Theatre & Movie Cafe in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (8/11/2009 UTC) at Park Theatre & Movie Cafe in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada



I'm bringing this fine book of stories to our August meeting. If none of the attendees are interested, it will be released to the shelf in the loft.

I hope whoever winds up with this book next enjoys it as much as I did.

Journal Entry 4 by winggypsysmomwing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Pooker3 made such a good case for this book at the meet-up that, despite having another book of short stories by this author, I decided to take it home. Note to self: be sure to pass it on to mrsgaskell when I'm done.

Journal Entry 5 by winggypsysmomwing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Monday, July 19, 2010
Frances Itani writes wonderfully. Her description was so vivid I could see the river that flowed past Trude's house and into this book. At the same time she describes the characters and their thoughts that I felt I knew them.

This book was written as individual stories but as the description on the front says it is "A Novel in Ten Stories". The stories are all about Jock Knight, his wife, Maura and their three children, Lyd, Trude and Eddie. Jock's job in the munitions factory in their Ontario home town dried up so he went looking for another one. He found it in St. Pierre, QC a little way from Hull and Ottawa. The job was inscribing fleur-de-lys on aluminum trays, a detail that struck me as funny because I wouldn't have thought there was enough of a market for those to warrant a whole factory. When he stopped for a beer after getting the job he met Duffy whose wife had just left him. Duffy wanted to move out of his house and Jock needed a house so they made a deal. Duffy left all the furniture in the house including a Heintzmann piano which figures in one of the stories. (I also grew up with a Heintzmann piano so I could picture this in great detail.)

Most of the stories are told by Trude but the first one is in the third person and it gives us the only glimpse of Maura's personality. When she first came to the house in St. Pierre she thought 'He's brought me to live beside a fast-flowing river, and I don't swim.' But this was the 1950's and men made decisions and women didn't question them. Or at least they didn't question them out loud.

Water is fascinating and life-giving but also deadly. We should all pay attention to water.

Journal Entry 6 by winggypsysmomwing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (7/20/2010 UTC) at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada


I'm going to see mrsgaskell at the BookCrossing Fringe Release Party tonight so I will pass it on to her then.

Journal Entry 7 by wingCJL-230711wing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I'm excited to read another book by Frances Itani, loved Deafening and Remembering the Bones. Having just read your journal entries, Pooker3 and gypsysmom, I think this is going to be every bit as good. I'm looking forward to the story with the Heintzman piano, gypsysmom - we had one, too. Thanks for sharing!

Journal Entry 8 by wingCJL-230711wing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Saturday, November 06, 2010
I loved both Deafening and Remembering the Bones. This is an earlier work by Itani and I thought it was a collection of short stories but was pleased to discover that it is in fact a novel told in short story format. I can say that this author has not disappointed me yet. I loved the black and white photos at the beginning of some sections.
Born in the mid-fifties, my childhood memories are mainly of the sixties but this novel set in the fifties was still a nostalgic read. Itani is a very observant writer. Paris paté sandwiches, cartons of Neapolitan ice cream, licorice pipes… I remember my friend’s mother rolling cigarettes just as described. All these things, along with the references to Ottawa and Hull added to the verisimilitude of this novel for me. About the Kings, an Anglo Ontario family who move to a small Quebec village when their father has to look for work, the story is mostly narrated by the middle child Trude. It’s about childhood, its perceptions and its long days of freedom, family life and the cultural differences that surround this particular family.

Thanks Pooker3 and gypsysmom!!

Journal Entry 9 by wingCJL-230711wing at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Saturday, November 06, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (11/6/2010 UTC) at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom


Mr. G and I are in Yorkshire and had a lovely day being shown the sights of Knaresborough by Nu-Knees and Mr. Nu-Knees. After lunch and lots of walking around we went back to their home for tea and held our own version of a mini-bookcrossing-meetup. This is one of the books that I left with Nu-Knees and I hope she'll enjoy it. Thanks for a fun day Nu-Knees - looking forward to the Guy Fawkes fireworks tonight!

Journal Entry 10 by wingNu-Kneeswing at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Saturday, November 06, 2010
The title and author of this book both seem very familiar but I don't have a copy on my BookCrossing virtual Bookshelf nor my actual Keeper Bookshelves so I dont think I've read it but I don't really know! I assume I'll find out when I start reading/re-reading it! Of course, given the state of my To Be Read piles, that might be some time ....
Thank you for this, mrsgaskell. I've loved spending time with you and MrG this weekend. It's been really good to meet you and show you something of my beloved Knaresborough :-)

Journal Entry 11 by wingNu-Kneeswing at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I really enjoyed this well-written story of growing up by a river in rural Quebec in the '50s, a time, although not a place, I can relate to! It reminded me of our short visit to Hull and Ottawa in 2000 :-) Some parts of some of the stories seemed familiar and I'm half-convinced I've read it before - perhaps a library copy? If I have, it didn't stop me enjoying it again! Thanks again for sharing it with me, mrsgaskell.

I've spotted this on the Wish List of a BookCrosser I met over lunch in the Salcey Forest last June, so it may be heading south as a RABCK :-)

Journal Entry 12 by wingNu-Kneeswing at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Thursday, February 24, 2011

Released 8 yrs ago (2/24/2011 UTC) at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom


Heading for Milton Keynes in the hands of the Royal Mail

Journal Entry 13 by Korky at Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom on Saturday, February 26, 2011
Received safely today in the post. It's lovely to receive a book that's been well read and enjoyed. Now I'm hoping that it won't linger on the TBR shelves too long before I can get to it. Many thanks Nu-knees and also to previous passers-on.

Journal Entry 14 by wingAnonymousFinderwing at Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Beautifully written Canadian linked short stories. Enjoyable holiday read.

Journal Entry 15 by Korky at Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom on Sunday, July 21, 2019
Finished this about a week ago but I didn't want to rush into a review. It's not really helped though as it's tricky to put into words what was so good about this.
There's a real sense of place and time in the rich language and an autobiographical type of reality and grounding to the stories.
I've had a look but unfortunately this isn't on anyone's Wishlist. I'll pass it on to my mum to read (who rarely reviews) then wild release and hope it falls into the right reader's hands.

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