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The Company We Keep : A Novel
HarperCollins Publishers

The Company We Keep : A Novel

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The Company We Keep
Author(s): Frances Itani

On Tuesday nights in the backroom of Cassie’s café, six strangers seek solace and find themselves part of a “Company of Good Cheer”

Hazzley is at loose ends, even three years after the death of her husband. When her longtime friend Cassandra, café owner and occasional dance-class partner, suggests that she start up a conversation group, Hazzley posts a notice on the community board at the local grocery store. Four people turn up for the first meeting: Gwen, a recently widowed retiree in her early sixties, who finds herself pet-sitting a cantankerous parrot; Chiyo, a forty-year-old fitness instructor who cared for her unyielding but gossip-loving mother through the final days of her life; Addie, a woman pre-emptively grieving a close friend who is seriously ill; and Tom, an antiques dealer and amateur poet who, deprived of home baking since becoming a widower, comes to the first meeting hoping cake will be served. Before long, they are joined by Allam, a Syrian refugee with his own story to tell.

These six strangers are learning that beginnings can be possible at any stage of life. But as they tell their stories, they must navigate what is shared and what is withheld. Which version of the truth will be revealed? Who is prepared to step up when help is needed? This moving, funny and deeply empathic new novel from acclaimed author Frances Itani reminds us that life, with all its twists and turns, never loses its capacity to surprise.

“Itani's company is Always Worth Keeping but this new set of characters is grieving in surprising and diverse and sometimes embarrassing ways, and doing it so wholeheartedly and experimentally, that I jumped into the group of them for good and keeps. This is a book that brings comfort and joy.” 
The Company We Keep is a multifaceted meditation on the living world of grief, starting with the irony of its title. With her characteristic compassion and gentle humour, Frances Itani brings us to Hazzley’s Grief Discussion Group, where we learn that grief assumes many guises – and isn’t always for the departed.” 
“This charming, uplifting portrait of strangers brought together by loss is a testament to the common roots of our suffering. Itani’s writing is familiar in all the best ways – cozy and comforting, like a letter from an old friend. Like grief itself, it leads us to unexpected and tender places.” 
“Frances Itani leads us away from a raucous world of politics and plagues in this insightful examination of lives left ragged by the surprising complexity of grief.” 
Praise for That's My Baby: “Itani writes with a quiet grace, an acute attention to detail and a keen, empathic awareness of things not said, of secrets and hidden emotional truths… the beauty and force of the novel cannot be denied.” 
“Itani’s prose is seductive … That’s My Baby is a satisfying offering by an author who never fails to delight.” 
“Itani's vivid storytelling, infused with music and seamless historical detail, reveals how memory, no matter how imperfect, can shape the person we believe ourselves to be.”
“A poignant story of love and sacrifice . . . . This is yet another unforgettable novel from a Canadian literary icon.” 
Praise for Tell: “Masterful … To read Tell is to drop seamlessly into the lives of [characters] so vivid and well drawn readers will celebrate their victories and cry alongside their anguish … An enthralling reminder of the toll the war – and all wars – take, not only on the soldiers but on the families who keep faith on the home front.”  
“Gravely beautiful… Itani’s prose is at its best in her lyrical descriptions of landscape… The historical research behind the novel is impeccable.” 

ISBN:  9781443457538