The Silence by Susan Allott #bookreview #blogtour @SusanAllott @BoroughPress @fictionpubteam @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the stunning debut novel by Susan Allott, The Silence as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, Joe, phoning from Sydney.

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. Joe claims he thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and he’s under suspicion of murder.

Back home in Sydney, Isla’s search for the truth takes her back to 1967, when two couples lived side by side on a quiet street by the sea. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

MY THOUGHTS

The Silence by Susan Allott is a heart-breaking and an enlightening read. Susan Allott explores a part of Australian history in her debut novel, which I’m ashamed to say, I never even knew about. It made me wonder why this part of history isn’t taught in schools or more widely known. What Susan Allott describes in her book is truly horrific, and it compelled me to find out more about what happened. This is what made reading the author notes at the end of the book, all the more interesting.

The novel is set in 1997. We meet Isla, who is at home in London when she receives a call from her dad early in the morning. The call is an alarming one. The police are investigating her dad on being involved in the disappearance of one of their neighbours thirty years earlier. The woman, Mandy, used to look after Isla when she was a child growing up in Australia in the late sixties. But her dad was the last person to see Mandy alive. Isla must return home to Australia and confront the awful truth that her father may not be the man who she thought she knew.

Susan’s writing really drew me into this tale. There’s a dark sense of foreboding right from the beginning, and I felt that nothing was as it seems. After Isla travels back to Australia to be with her family, Susan then takes us back to 1967. The events that take place in these chapters lead up to Mandy’s disappearance and the uncomfortable truth. It is in this part of the novel that Susan explores what happened to children of Aboriginal families during this period. This took place between 1910 and 1970. One of the characters, Steve, is a police officer, and he is charged with removing children from Aboriginal families. One young boy Steve takes a particular shine to, and he promises the boy’s mother that he will look after him and give him a good life.

Susan Allott weaves a cleverly constructed tale around these events. I could feel Steve’s longing to have a child of his own, particularly when Mandy, his wife, doesn’t appear keen to have children. I could understand why he wanted to raise the child he took as his own, but his decision that day was certainly not fraught with risk.

Isla puts herself close to danger as she fights to find the real truth behind Mandy’s disappearance and my eyes were kept glued to the pages as the Susan revealed what really happened.

The Silence is a compelling and powerful read. Susan Allott is a writer to watch.

Publisher: The Borough Press

Publication date: 6th August 2020

Print length: 368 pages

The Silence is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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The Silence by Daisy Pearce #bookreview

On my blog today I’m sharing my thoughts on the debut novel by Daisy Pearce, The Silence.

The Silence by [Pearce, Daisy]

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She’s broken. She’s vulnerable. She’s just what Marco was looking for.

Stella Wiseman was a child TV star, but there’s nothing glamorous about her life now. Alone in her thirties, she’s lost her parents and her friends and she’s stuck in a dead-end job. But just as she hits rock bottom she meets Marco, a charismatic older man who offers to get her back on her feet. He seems too good to be true.

Is he?

She appreciates the money he lavishes on her. And the pills. But are the pills just helping her sleep, or helping her avoid her problems?

With Stella’s life still in freefall, Marco whisks her away to a secluded cottage where she is isolated from everyone except him. But the closer he pulls her, the worse she gets. He tells her it’s all in her head, and she just needs time away from the world.

No longer sure what’s real and what’s not, Stella begins to question whether she was wrong to trust Marco. Was she wrong to trust herself? Is the one person she thought was fighting for her survival actually her biggest threat?

MY THOUGHTS

I was instantly hooked by Daisy Pearce’s debut novel, The Silence. This is a claustrophobic and tense read that I finished in just a couple of sittings. The lead character, Stella Wiseman, is a former childhood television star; she was cast in a popular children’s television show. When she falls head over heels for Marco, she thinks everything in her life is about to change for the better, but soon she begins to realise that Marco may not be everything that he seems.

This story may seem familiar to psychological readers, but what I loved about it was Daisy Pearce’s taut writing which draws you into Stella’s perspective. This is as she first gets involved with Marco, and when she then learns the uncomfortable truth about him. I could see the relationship that was beginning to blossom between them and at this stage, I didn’t want anything to go wrong, even though you know that something is going to happen. I could see how anxious she was beginning to feel. This is also, especially when Stella starts to get her name in the press again.

Daisy’s writing makes this a read a very easy one to get into, and once I started, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Stella is a very well-formed character, and I liked the relationship that she has with her friend, Carmel, which is one of the strong points of the novel. Their dialogue is full of wit and brings their characters to life. I could instantly see their personalities coming out through their conversations which Daisy did really well.

I think there were times when I really wanted to yell at Stella for the choices that she was making. I think she may frustrate many readers, and at this point, I wanted to find out how things were going to play out for her and Marco as their relationship developed. You can see the walls in their relationship beginning to crumble, and I was waiting for the moment when everything was going to come crashing down, and there is in an explosive finale. This is what makes it a really tense read, as I could sense what was going to happen between Marco and Stella. Through Daisy’s writing, it makes it seem as though the walls are closing in.

I loved the Cornish setting, and Daisy Pearce describes this really well in her writing. You can picture the sea crashing against the cliffs and the sprawling landscape around the cottage where Stella is staying. I also thought it was really atmospheric as well, particularly in the final scenes when the fog rolls in, you can see that this is what’s going to make things even more difficult for Stella in the final few chapters. This is where Daisy Pearce builds the tension really well. Also, London is painted vividly as well. I knew a lot of the locations Daisy was referring to and I could see them really clearly in my mind.

The Silence is a confident and a well-written thriller that will keep you reading well into the night, yes it is familiar in the psychological thriller genre, but it is really enjoyable. I think Daisy Pearce is an author I will be sticking with and I’m keen to see what she releases next.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 1st March 2020

Print length: 316 pages

The Silence is available to buy: 

Amazon UK  Waterstones