"A brilliant novel by a writer whose moral vision will surely ensure his
place in the world of literature"
-- Shyam Selvadurai, author of Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens
"You can gauge the depth of my admiration when I tell you that my reaction
to A Cage of Bones was simply envy"
-- Douglas LePan, twice winner of Canada's Governor-General's Award
Here's what the world is saying about A Cage of Bones
Ian Young for Torso, Los Angeles, April 1999
Published in Britain, A Cage of Bones is an impressively mature first
novel by Canadian Jeffrey Round.
The naive, or repressed, Anglo-Saxon who experiences an erotic awakening
on a trip to sunnier climes is a familiar literary figure, from Melville
through Gide and Forster to The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and beyond. In
A Cage of Bones, the traveller is a young Canadian fashion model, Warden
Fields, gay but not yet out, who finds himself working for an agency in
Milan. There, he becomes lovers with an Italian boy before being
transferred to rainy London where his involvement with a young left-wing
pop singer takes his hitherto charmed life on a dark and unexpected
There are some charming Durrellesque descriptions here: "Under the canopy
of night, Florence glowed like a tiny music box built with tiny, bejeweled
fingers. The sky stretched overhead like a net covered in thousands of
tiny fish, their scales winking and twitching as they strained to be
free." Yet for the most part, Round's prose is smoothly transparent,
giving his narrative a quiet strength and authority. Erotic scenes (which
even experienced writers often botch) are deftly rendered here, avoiding
the pitfalls of coyness on the one hand and pornography on the other.
Though set in the milieu of male fashion modeling, this is neither a
glamorization nor an exposť, but rather a thoughtful, realistic story of
one gentle young man's coming of age. Before the novel is over, Warden
learns some essential truths about himself, friendship, freedom, and the
often unfair ways of the world. He emerges from his travails matured,
scarred, and, happily, still able to love and hope.
Sebastian Beaumont for Gay Times, London, U.K., February 1998 A Cage of Bones is a story set largely in the modelling world. Warden is
Canadian and unaware of the commercial potential of his looks until he is
whisked away to fame and fortune by an Italian modelling agency. Jeffrey
Round clearly knows the business he is writing about, and gives the story
a pleasing twist when he injects his narrative with high drama in the form
of Warden's affair with Joshua Behrens, a radical pop star with political
ideals, who will drag Warden into deeper trouble than he can possibly
A good read.
Steve Nugent for Fab Magazine, Toronto, April 1998
The writing here is graceful and stylish which is in keeping with the
theme of the novel - the fashion industry. Who can resist the visual
impact of those beauties prancing down the catwalk, trying to make us
believe that the clothes mean something to them while we know that they
just want us to look at them?
The unsophisticated Warden Fields, from Toronto, is one such, having been
pressured to model in Europe by a model agency. He had earlier been
spotted in a group of volleyball players at Hanlan's Point for a jean
commercial as the all-Canadian boy. So off he goes, in his naive way, to
be absorbed into that volatile atmosphere, and to fall for Joshua who puts
political activism before commitment, thereby drawing him into illegal
activity, and eventually, jail.
The story is fluid and clearly based in the author's experiences in the
fashion trade, he is only unconvincing when he assures us, for legal
purposes, that it is a work of fiction.
Kamal Al-Solaylee for The Toronto Star Online, Toronto, December 1997
Sexy and intelligent novel mixing fashion with politics.
Jeffrey Round's A Cage of Bones follows the experiences of Warden, a
Toronto gay man who makes it big on the catwalks of Europe. I found
Round's writing to be both seductive and insightful. The novel reveals a
writer whose life experience has enriched his outlook on life; someone who
is now in a position to share some of this with his readers. Round's novel
is permeated by this sense of confidence and strong moral vision.
A Cage of Bones is A Room with a View for the gay 90s. It is hilariously
funny but its social and political philosophy is astute. The fashion and
alternative rock worlds, the two main settings for the novel, are
described with meticulous but loving details.