The Bone People

The Bone People

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Overview

Integrating both Maori myth and New Zealand reality, The Bone People became the most successful novel in New Zealand publishing history when it appeared in 1984. Set on the South Island beaches of New Zealand, a harsh environment, the novel chronicles the complicated relationships between three emotional outcasts of mixed European and Maori heritage. Kerewin Holmes is a painter and a loner, convinced that "to care for anything is to invite disaster." Her isolation is disrupted one day when a six-year-old mute boy, Simon, breaks into her house. The sole survivor of a mysterious shipwreck, Simon has been adopted by a widower Maori factory worker, Joe Gillayley, who is both tender and horribly brutal toward the boy. Through shifting points of view, the novel reveals each character's thoughts and feelings as they struggle with the desire to connect and the fear of attachment.

Compared to the works of James Joyce in its use of indigenous language and portrayal of consciousness, The Bone People captures the soul of New Zealand as it continues to astonish and enrich readers around the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143116455
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/29/2010
Series: Penguin Ink
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 270,476
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Keri Hulme, a Maori, grew up in Christchurch and Moeraki, New Zealand. She writes, paints, and whitebaits in Okarito, Westland. Hulme has written poems and short stories; The Bone People, originally published by Spiral, a New Zealand feminist collective, is her first novel. She has also written Te Zaihau: The Windeater.

Table of Contents

Prologue
The End At The Beginning 3(8)
I Season Of The Day Moon
Portrait Of A Sandal
11(33)
Feelers
44(49)
Leaps In The Dark
93(64)
II The Sea Round
A Place To Sleep By Day
157(45)
Spring Tide, Neap Tide, Ebb Tide, Flood
202(37)
Ka Tata Te Po
239(22)
III The Lighting Struck Tower
Mirrortalk
261(41)
Nightfall
302(8)
Candles In The Wind
310(25)
IV Feldapart Sinews, Breaken Bones
The Kaumatua And The Broken Man
335(51)
The Boy By His Own
386(25)
The Woman At The Wellspring Of Death
411(30)
Epilogue Moonwater Picking 441(5)
Translation of Maori Words and Phrases 446

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The Bone People 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
verysmallgiant More than 1 year ago
I've read this book a number of times, I return to it every few years. The first reading nearly destroyed me, because the content is so emotionally disturbing. Child abuse is never a good time, though the other presiding themes of isolation and the human capacity for love and forgiveness redeem it from the realm of senseless violence. At a certain point in the first reading I was so absorbed in the psyche of the characters that I found myself completely invested, and could not have walked away if I'd tried. It is the mark of a great book to be so wholly effected by it....good or bad, but never indifferent. I have to admit that I have never liked the ending, but the journey to that point is one you can't soon forget. This book will not be for everyone.
Sash01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is definitely an amazing read in terms of language; it's some of the most poetic prose I've ever read, but (at least until the very last section) the showiness of the language doesn't make the story slow at all. The final part seems to come out of nowhere, but it might just needing more than one reading. The abuse is horrifying and like a lot of other readers I found it hard to forgive the characters; but at the same time it is nice to read a book that allows its characters to remain complicated (and cruel) the whole way through. It's also pretty impressive that there isn't much in the way of action in the book; everything that happens takes place between three characters, and the story is just how their relationship changes. The ending seems pretty unrealistic, but within the logic of the book I think it works.
becalee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this as part of a course on postcolonial literature. Captured a feeling of isolation and of maori culture beautifully.
T42 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first read this book for a college lit class, and I've read it again a couple of time since. Hulme does such a great job with the characters that you really begin to identify with them and that's part of the reason why this story will stick with you.
labfs39 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am having a hard time digesting this book. I was glad I read it after reading a memoir/history of New Zealand so that I understood a bit more of the wonderful folklore and Maori myth woven into this story. I still can't decide, however, if I can accept that a parent who deals repeated, disfiguring, violent abuse can be understood, forgiven, and given a second redeeming chance. Am I being realistic or uncharitable? Am I seeing things only from the point of view of a white, European-descended Pakeha? I found the story beautiful, yet disturbing. Although the ending made sense in the context of the book, outside the author's magical spell, I don't know that I can accept it.
shani413 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read this book a number of times, I return to it every few years. The first reading nearly destroyed me, because the content is so emotionally disturbing. Child abuse is never a good time, though the other presiding themes of isolation and the human capacity for love and forgiveness redeem it from the realm of senseless violence. At a certain point in the first reading I was so absorbed in the psyche of the characters that I found myself completely invested, and could not have walked away if I'd tried. It is the mark of a great book to be so wholly effected by it....good or bad, but never indifferent. I have to admit that I have never liked the ending, but the journey to that point is one you can't soon forget. This book will not be for everyone.
tngolden on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having lived in New Zealand for a short period of my life I have since been fascinated by the Maori, the indiginous population of New Zealand. They have an intriguing culture of Hakas, elaborate wood-carving, mythology, and tattooing in their beautiful Island continent.With that in mind it was with excitement that I picked up this book from my University bookstore. What I found within was much more then I expected. While I was looking for a cultural expose, I found that besides that I was enjoying a fascinating tale that is human in nature: one of strength and weakness, the conflict and resolution between people, the different stages of age and development and the conflict between generations, family dynamics and economic strata. The characters are round, developed and fascinating and the landscape they live in within the story is crowded with symbolism and allegory. This isn't a book you read, this is a book you experience... at least that was what I found, and now that it is through I find I really miss living in Hulme's environment.
todd534 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This, like many, was a book where I was up and down between 3 and 4 stars for most of the text.The author's voice is very unique. Mostly this is great, and you feel like it's an awesome, strong voice from another culture, but at times it feels too unique. Mid-paragraph tense-switching can be either a clever way of playing with convention to introduce emotional immediacy, or just a cop-out and annoying, and here it feels like each some of the time.There are times when the writing is iffy; characters interesting for their complex emotional states occasionally have inner monologues which are too on-the-head. But. The story is cool, and the characters are very cool, and you feel like you're never going to read another book from exactly the same perspective as this one. And that's enough to push it over to a four for me.
piefuchs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book in undergrad and though it was one of the best books I had ever read.
cantab on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best written books ever published. Can't recommend it highly enough!Vivid, cutting, colorful, painful, simply alive. This book sticks with me years and years after I first grappled with it.
plenilune on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A classic of contemporary fiction, not quite like anything I've read before. Hulme skillfully weaves together the emotional and actual lives of three genuinely unique characters. There is poetry and song, folktale and myth. The often harsh realities of life are rendered in unflinching, heartbreaking detail. Ultimately, this is a novel of redemption and of family, both the one you are born into and the one you choose. Not any easy read by any means, but almost impossible to put down once you've started and well worth the effort.
bibliobbe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Keri Hulme made her reputation on this book, and of course she won the Booker Prize in 1985 ¿ the first, and still only, New Zealander to do so. The themes of child abuse in a dysfunctional family are stunning in this setting, particularly as the main perpetrator is so sympathetically drawn. Compared to the other New Zealand classic on abuse, Once Were Warriors, this is a much more three-dimensional portrait of violence and redemption. I forgive Hulme for being slow with the follow-up novel: this is so fantastic, you wouldn¿t want to rush the next one.
bozon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Highest rated in my book club's list. We read it in May 1996. We rate 1-5 and it's the only two other books in our history have scored 5 (The Power of One/Bryce Courtenay and The Mists of Avalon/Marion Zimmer Bradley). Poetic language. The reader slips effortlessly into the minds of the main characters.
karieh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very difficult review for me to write. This book was recommended to me by a new LibraryThing friend. The language is simply beautiful - even/especially the Maori words that I do not understand. Hulme's words create color drenched pictures and music that is haunting and incredibly sad. (Fitting music for the background of this book.)The reason that this is a difficult review to write is that because Hulme is so successful at putting us inside the (3) main characters...but those are places I do not want to be. I sympathize with these incredibly damaged people - but I cannot empathize with them. The amount of violence - especially against a small child - leaves me heartsick and almost unwilling to read on.Because of that level of violence - I was unable to trust Hulme when the story came to a conclusion. I simply no longer believed that the characters would act as they did.This book provides a window to a world far from my own...one very foreign and very disturbing.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"A family can be the bane of one's existence. A family can also be most of the meaning of one's existence. I don't know whether my family is bane or meaning, but they have surely gone away and left a large hole in my heart." (p. 242)Keri Hulme's Booker prize-winning novel is about the healing power of relationships and family bonds. Kerewin is an artist and recluse, unmarried and estranged from her family. Joe is a widowed laborer with a violent temper. Simon, Joe's foster son, lost his parents in a boating accident. Simon's specific identity is unknown, he cannot speak, and he has suffered severe emotional trauma. These three very lonely people come together when Simon breaks into Kerewin's house. Slowly, tentatively, Joe and Simon reach out to Kerewin. Slowly, tentatively, she accepts their attentions. After a long holiday at a seaside camp they are as close to a family as any of them have ever experienced. However, the dark side of each character looms large, and when the inevitable happens each character is shaken to their very core and must choose when and how to begin the healing process.Hulme's writing style is unorthodox, yet I found this book difficult to put down. I was completely committed to the characters, despite their often significant flaws. The insights into Maori culture were interesting. Although I was a bit uncertain how the ending came together the way it did, I very much enjoyed the journey.
ama_bee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
not for the faint-of-heart. child abuse and other violence.
RoseCityReader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Bone People is a difficult book about identity, love, and belonging. Hume tells the story of three tough-as-nails characters: Kerewin, an isolated artist who can no longer paint; Joe, a Maori workman struggling to raise his adopted son alone; and Simon, the mute little boy Joe found washed up on the seashore. The style is difficult because the point of view switches around among the three main characters without warning; Hulme uses Joycean made-up words as well as Maori words; and it is hard to tell when the adults are speaking their own words or thinking out loud what they think the mute little Simon is trying to communicate. The story is difficult because of the child abuse at the center of the plot. The ambivalence with which Hulme treats the topic makes the story incredibly interesting, but absolutely distressing. The characters are difficult because none of them are likable. Simon is sympathetic, for sure. But even he has his moments of maliciousness, although these are less convincing than Hulme may have intended. Joe, on the other hand, does not deserve the sympathy Hulme seems to want the reader to give him. Yes, he gets his comeuppance in the end, but it does not seem sufficient punishment. His role is key to the story because he is the hinge between Simon and Kerewin, but the ultimate resolution seems a little unrealistic, given the prior conflict. Kerwin is particularly prickly and seething with anger. She is quick to lash out verbally, and if angry enough or drunk enough, physically. She has cut herself off from her family and her community, preferring to live in an isolated tower by the ocean. She has even isolated herself from her own sex, considering herself to be a third gender ¿ a ¿neuter.¿ But Kerwin¿s story makes the book worth reading. She is one of the most complex and intriguing characters in contemporary literature.
navonod on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The resolution, reclamation and rebirth of three damaged individuals. Immersed in Maori misticism, sensuality and powerful prose, this is one of the finest novels I have read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This extraordinary psychological study and excursion into the deep and sometimes surreal recesses of New Zealands Maori culture, took Hulme ten years to write, and justifiably won the Booker. Hulme invests the book with her own wholly original style and lexicon, and achieves an aura of deep, exotic mystery against a bleak yet engaging interpersonal narrative, while working both the maori and english languages in new and startling ways. From New Zealand's rugged and inaccessible west coast, she crafts a multilayered fable about a location few people have ever been, and achieves a wholly unique time, place and sensibility. A major work of art on many levels, it is fundamentally an experiential masterpiece, leaving you slightly melancholic but profoundly awed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An excellent, unsettling piece of artistry. Frightening at times, but more often terribly human. It is a book you go back and read again and again, without ever realising it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is so intense, so well-written, and so thoroughly amazing... and so important. An example of some of the best, most original writing out there. You are truly taken into the story, and profoundly affected by it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books ever. When this story takes you it doesn't let you go. Unusually and beautifully written. As a reader I had to stop and wonder, 'how did she do that?' Very well!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Bone People is a novel that makes you want to keep reading. Keri Hulme lets you get so into the characters that you're telling them what they should and shouldn't do. Once you start reading this book, the Maorian culture becomes a part of you. Hulme uses effective ways to catch the reader's attention. The book was so good I didn't want it to end. I wish I knew what would happen next! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone!