A Tour of Bones: Facing Fear and Looking for Life (Hardcover)
A life-affirming exploration of how to live well in the face of mortality.
Denise Inge grew up in a large and rambunctious family on the east coast of America. She crossed the Sahara, charmed snakes in Marrakech and cycled the Adirondack mountains but her latest adventure is closer to home. It starts with the discovery that her house is built on a crypt full of human skeletons. Facing her fear of these strangers’ bones takes her to other charnel houses in Europe and on a journey into the meaning of bones themselves. This exploration, though it began before her diagnosis with an inoperable sarcoma, takes on a new significance when the question of living well in the face of mortality abruptly ceases to be hypothetical.
A Tour of Bones is a passionate testament to the conviction that living is more than not dying and that contemplating mortality is not about being prepared to die but about being prepared to live.
A leading authority on the 17th century poet and mystic Thomas Traherne, Denise Inge's Traherne anthology Happiness and Holiness was named in the Spectator's 'Books of the Year' 2008. She also published numerous academic articles, features, and reviews . . . She had been a guest speaker at the Hay Festival, Words by the Water, Dartington and Greenbelt and the Ledbury Poetry Festival.
She died just as this book was going to press.
“Exquisite . . . It is, quite simply, a gem.” —Alexander McCall Smith
“An erudite and inspiring journey into what we lose, what remains and what we can pass on. A Tour of Bones is wise, kind, magpie-curious and shines with a love of life.” —David Mitchell
“A beautifully-written book . . . One which celebrates not death but life, and how, by confronting the fear and inevitability of our end, we can embrace life and live it more abundantly.” —P. D. James
“Sceptical, funny, frank and shot through with a sparkling zest for life.” —Spectator
“Denise Inge's jewel of a memoir is suffused with an indomitable spirit.” —Times
“A thoughtful writer who believed her terminal diagnosis made life more 'delicious,' Inge's bone tour illuminates the expansive difference 'between the humdrum everyday and heaped mortality.' An adventurous and macabre tribute to the eternal longevity of human bones.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Profound and peculiar . . . As a book, A Tour of Bones is as strange and chaotic, unsettling and inspiring, as are any of the bone houses that Inge visited on her journey . . . Her vibrant voice, her presence on these pages is in itself a kind of life beyond death.” —Maureen Corrigan on Fresh Air, NPR
“Although the idea of charnel houses might appear ghoulish, the deliberateness in preserving these human remains can change one's perspective, as Inge discovered in her travels . . . In Sedlec, she discovered chalices and chandeliers built out of bones; in Hallstatt, sun-bleached skulls were lovingly hand painted; in Naters, Inge juxtaposes the beauty of the Alps against the macabre. Each visit altered Inge's own feelings toward life and death further, leaving readers with a deep sense of the wonder of them both.” —Shelf Awareness
"Tender and full of hope. [Inge’s] personal attempt to cope with her own mortality leads to a message about reverence for life. She appeals to her readers to cultivate a keen awareness and respect for fellow human beings . . . Inspiring and hopeful." —Missourian