Friday, June 05, 2020

Review: The Silence by Susan Allott

Title: The Silence
Author: Susan Allott
Published: May 2020, William Morrow
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Booktours

Combining the emotional power and dual narrative style of Before We Were Yours with the nuanced, layered, and atmospheric mystery of , a powerful debut novel revolving around a shocking disappearance, two neighbor families, and shameful secrets from the past that refuse to stay buried.

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 phoning from Sydney. 30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. At the time, it was thought she had fled a broken marriage and 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 Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

Isla unwillingly plans to go back to Australia for the first time in a decade to support her father. The return to Sydney will plunge Isla deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side. Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England—a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve—a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job—is desperate to become a father.

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? What will happen to their family if Isla’s worst fears are realized? 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?

Deftly exploring the deterioration of relationships and the devastating truths we keep from those we love, The Silence is a stunning debut from a promising literary star.

My thoughts: You know when you read a synopsis and you just have to read the book - that was this one. It grabbed me and I'm so glad I was given a chance to read this one.

I loved that this book was not a fast-paced thriller, but rather a quiet, emotional story that has a dark undertone to it and delves into secrets long buried. I was captivated from the start and found myself glued to the pages and even though it is a slow-burn, I still read this book in a day - I just could not put it down. 

This book is a multi-layered story with richly drawn, deeply flawed, complex characters. I loved that that is it so much more than just a mystery, though. We are given an insight into a part of Australia's history I had never heard about - the Stolen Generation - and of course, I will be following up on this to find out more about it. This was a dark time in Australia's history and I felt that the author was able to bring it to light in a tactful and respectful manner.

In the course of solving the mystery - what really happened to Mandy all those years ago - secrets come to life. This is what drives the story and keeps you glued to the pages. There is the tension of the mystery alongside the exploration of the ups and downs of human relationships. This was so well-done.

I really loved this book. It was atmospheric and completely engrossing - the type of book that stays with you long after you finish reading it. I will be recommending this book to everyone and I cannot wait to read more from this author in the future!



  1. This sounds like an amazing read! I've requested it from my library so hopefully won't have to wait too long after it reopens to get it.

  2. Thanks for a wonderful review.


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