The Very Marrow of Our Bones
On a miserable November day in 1967, two women disappear from a working-class town on the Fraser River. The community is thrown into panic, with talk of drifters and murderous husbands. But no one can find a trace of Bette Parsons or Alice McFee. Even the egg seller, Doris Tenpenny, a woman to whom everyone tells their secrets, hears nothing.
Ten-year-old Lulu Parsons discovers something, though: a milk-stained note her mother, Bette, left for her father on the kitchen table. Wally, it says, I will not live in a tarpaper shack for the rest of my life . . .
Lulu tells no one, and months later she buries the note in the woods. At the age of 10, she starts running — and forgetting — lurching through her unraveled life, using the safety of solitude and detachment until, at 50, she learns that she is not the only one who carries a secret.
Hopeful, lyrical, comedic, and intriguingly and lovingly told, The Very Marrow of Our Bones explores the isolated landscapes and thorny attachments bred by childhood loss and buried secrets. (From ECW Press)
- How being a CBC Literary Prize finalist gave Christine Higdon the confidence she needed to pursue writing
Christine Higdon on the personal side of The Very Marrow of Our Bones
"One of the the themes of the story was about my mother. I don't even know how old I was, but she essentially said that if she was to do it again, she might not have had children. On some level, that was a pretty hard thing to hear. But at the same time, I had this compassion for her. She and my father were poor. They traveled all over the place looking for work. She had five kids and I think she was overwhelmed by the experience. And I thought about that. I understood how that might be something more than we let on, that women might feel.
It isn't my life story but it is my thoughts and it's on something so personal.- Christine Higdon
"Before the book was going to be published, I felt like, 'Oh my God I'm I'm putting my book, my life out there.' It isn't my life story but it is my thoughts and it's on something so personal. You are exposing yourself on some level and that's been an interesting part of this journey for me."
Read more in her interview with CBC Books.
From the book
It was under the milk jug on the kitchen table. A wet ring cut across the centre of the piece of paper, a lined sheet she'd torn from one of our scribblers. Mine probably. And the ink had run milky blue, veins emptied on the page. Why I hid it, I can't say. Why I didn't say anything about it to anyone, even when the police came, even years later, when my brother Trevor hammered a little wooden cross with her name on it into the garden, like for a dog's grave, and I kicked it over, I will never know.
The note said: Wally I will not live in a tarpaper shack for the rest of my life. Love Bette.
From The Very Marrow of Our Bones by Christine Higdon ©2018. Published by ECW Press.
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