The Company We Keep

Frances Itani -

Frances Itani, C.M., is an award-winning, best-selling author who has published 18 books (novels, stories, poetry and children's work), as well as many reviews, articles and essays. She has travelled widely and has lived, worked and studied in 7 Canadian provinces. She has also lived in England, U.S.A., Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Croatia and Cyprus. Her work has been translated and published in 18 countries. Her latest novel is The Company We Keep. Frances lives in Ottawa.


Hazzley is at loose ends, even three years after the death of her husband, when her longtime friend Cassandra, café owner, suggests that she start up a conversation group. Four people turn up for the first meeting: Gwen, recently widowed, finds herself pet-sitting a cantankerous parrot; Chiyo, a forty-year-old fitness instructor, has cared for her unyielding but gossip-loving mother through the final days of her life; Addie, pre-emptively grieving a close friend who is seriously ill; and Tom, an antique dealer and amateur poet who, deprived of home baking since becoming a widower, comes to the first meeting hoping cake will be served. They are soon joined by Allam, a Syrian refugee with his own story to tell.

These six strangers are learning that new beginnings are always possible. This moving, funny and deeply empathic new novel 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.” — Linda Spalding, Governor General’s Award-winning author of The Purchase