By Itani, Frances, 1942- author | 2020
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In this warm, bittersweet story, set in the same town as Remembering the Bones, five strangers find solace and new friendships as they grapple with grief in its many guises. Hazzley is having a hard time after the death of her husband. When her longtime friend Cassandra, café owner and occasional tea-leaf reader, suggests that Hazzley start up a conversation group, Hazzley posts a notice on the community board at the local grocery store. Four people turn up at the first meeting: Gwen, a recent retiree who is similarly getting over the loss of a husband, and who finds herself telling her life story to the parrot she is temporarily caring for; Chiyo, a 45-year old dance instructor who became accustomed to checking the notice board for news on behalf of her gossip-loving mother who had become too ill to go out; Addie, the daughter of a psychiatric nurse who is pre-emptively grieving a close friend who has breast cancer; and Tom, an amateur poet who, having been deprived of home baking since becoming a widower, comes to the first meeting hoping cake will be served. With a good deal of humour and world-weary savvy, Cassie watches over the group and bears witness to the interaction and weekly exchange of stories, some of which she knows are true, some fabricated, and all of which she can see are pulling this small group together. In the end, all five find themselves on previously unimagined paths, learning that new beginnings are possible, and that they are never past the stage when life can still surprise.