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Extended Audio Sample The Translation of the Bones: A Novel Audiobook, by Francesca Kay Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (172 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Francesca Kay Narrator: Fiona Shaw Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2012 ISBN: 9781442358959
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Mary-Margaret O’Reilly is a seemingly harmless young woman, ready and willing to help out Father Diamond in the Sacred Heart church in Battersea. She may not be very bright, and she is sadly overweight, but she can certainly clean, and she is very good with children.

It is the statue of Jesus on the cross Mary-Margaret is especially drawn to, and one day she decides to give Him a thorough and loving cleansing. But moments later she lies unconscious, a great gash in her head, blood on the floor. Word gets out that she has witnessed a miracle, and soon a full-scale religious mania descends on the quiet church, and everyone from Father Diamond to his small but loyal band of parishioners is affected by it. After recovering, Mary-Margaret returns to the church and, obsessively, back to the statue of Jesus. He has told her things, things she must act on, and urgently. The act she decides upon is a shocking one, making The Translation of the Bones a riveting story of passion gone tragically wrong. 

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] skillfully constructed and beautifully written book, which is as much concerned with common humanity as it is with individual faith.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “Fiercely lyrical yet exceedingly tough-minded…stark and unforgettable.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “What begins as the small mystery of one woman’s vision (or delusion) explodes into a deeper story about how people cope with grief and loss.”

    Washington Post

  • “By imbuing these troubled souls with transcendent innocence and memorable backstories, Kay brings depth to characters that could easily become stereotypes, all while spinning an extraordinary plot.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Kay lays out a moving consideration of devotion and loss.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, January 2012
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award
  • Longlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Colette | 2/12/2014

    " Interesting characters in this tail of the week before Easter and strange events at a church in Battersea. Has a miracle happened or is the young woman who witnessed it mad? Thought-provoking stuff as the various churchgoers and the priest all have different perspectives on faith. Makes you question what you believe yourself, and how you would react in a similar situation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alexandra Yarrow | 2/10/2014

    " Religious hysteria, mental illness, a mother's love for her child and small-town multicultural England. A masterfully told tale of misunderstanding and dangerous fervor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 2/2/2014

    " A dark story of simple faith corrupted by delusion and obsession. Poignant tale, beautifully written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 1/31/2014

    " Wow. What a story to finish during Lent. Cannot improve on what other reviewers said - "quiet story" "powerful". The themes of faith and motherhood in an English style were deep and unforgettable. I will definitely seek out her other works. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Penny | 1/25/2014

    " It seemed to be 2 stories jammed together, sequentially ... well written, but I couldn't bring myself to care about the characters and the level of detail. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Betsy | 1/18/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book. I think it would make a good one for book club. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gayla Bassham | 1/15/2014

    " Liked but didn't love. Reminded me of The Submission in that it is very much a high concept novel. I did like it better than The Submission, though. Strong writing throughout, but Stella and her son struck me as a bit cliched and I never felt that Kay really got inside any of her characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessica | 1/14/2014

    " An ok slender book about how the child like faith of a mentally disturbed church volunteer leads to murder. Even though the book is short (think novella size) it took me forever to get through it because of the richness (perhaps too rich?) of the writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tiki | 1/9/2014

    " If the book didn't take place in London, I would never have read it. As it is, the main character, Mary-Margaret is so annoying, I kept skimming the parts where she is pontificating about one thing or the other just to get rid of her. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shell | 12/12/2013

    " Not for me really. Sounded interesting but I couldnt click with it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Marisa Gonzalez | 12/11/2013

    " The story of a woman who experiences a religious vision and how it affects her and those around her. I was looking forward to reading this book as I thought it would be uplifting instead it was very depressing. All the characters were unhappy and it had a really bad ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Kay | 11/9/2013

    " Intense story about religious mania in the wake of a supposed miracle in an English chapel "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen Garverich | 10/25/2013

    " Very thought provoking book beautifully written regarding individual faith among different interesting characters Highely recommende "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Fiona (Titch) Hunt | 9/26/2013

    " Gave up as I couldn't get into the book x "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bradley | 8/30/2013

    " This was a perfect book to read during Lent. This slim novel about a British Catholic church and a supposed miracle during the week of Easter was an interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda Smith | 6/18/2013

    " Interesting read; faith-based, challenging, poignant! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom | 6/16/2013

    " Ultimately this book is about faith, said one of the faithless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kb | 1/4/2013

    " The interplay of the modern and ancient, of faith and doubt, of love and hate and of all the sins and triumphs of the Roman Catholic Church - all spaced out over the liturgy of Lent and Holy Week. May not be for all but beautiful to me. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Christine | 1/1/2013

    " This book certainly would fit into my "not worth finishing" category, but, sadly, I DID finish it. Utterly awful. One of the most unappealing, unsympathetic cast of characters I've ever encountered. I wish I could have those hours of my life back. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jonathan | 11/29/2012

    " 3 and a half stars. Nice pace and plot with a few interesting characters and an interesting premise. Good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 11/18/2012

    " 4 1/2 I loved this small, elegant novel of misplaced faith. It seemed the perfect book to read during the Lenten season. Francesca Kay writes beautifully. "

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About the Author

Francesca Kay’s first novel, An Equal Stillness, won the Orange Award for New Writers in 2009. She lives in Oxford with her family.

About the Narrator

Fiona Shaw, Earphones Award-winning narrator, is an Irish actress and theater director. She is best known for her role as Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter films and for her portrayal of Marnie Stonebrook in the HBO series True Blood. Also an accomplished classical actress, she was awarded an honorary CBE in 2001.