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Summary

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.

Thirty 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? 

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

©2020 Susan Allott (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"A riveting mystery, beautifully unwound. The Silence excavates dark, decades-old secrets buried in human hearts, in families and in nations. I read it in one weekend." (Erin Kelly) 

"Deeply engrossing...an exquisite literary thriller." (Philippa East, author of Little White Lies)

"An impressive and beautifully written, Australian-set debut with the devastating subject of the Stolen Generation at its core." (Fiona Mitchell, author of The Swap)

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Gripping!

This brings to life some real dark family issues including alcoholism through brilliant characters. You go through a range of feelings for them - sympathy, admiration, worry, dislike, disgust and more. It also highlights the historical removal of aboriginal children in Australia. Gripping narrative right up until the last chapter.

1 person found this helpful

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Highly recommended

I really enjoyed this book. It is very evocative of the time and setting and beautifully portrays the mysteries and secrets of the families and friendships of all the characters. I like the way it highlights the cultural differences between the 60s and the 90s, of what was acceptable in the past but isn't now, and of the problems that endure across the decades with little change. Excellent narration which was very easy to listen to. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable listen and I look forward to the next book by this author if it is as good as this one.

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  • J
  • 11-06-20

Gripping and immersive

Loved this novel, which toggles between 1960s and 1990s Australia. Its Aboriginal plot line feels very pertinent to the Black Lives Matter movement, its characters are very well drawn and I found it impossible to switch off - so listened to the whole thing in about three days!

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A powerful jigsaw

This story is like a jigsaw puzzle, turning over the pieces thinking you know where each will go, eventually realising you need to revise each placement. The descriptions add to the atmosphere, and are measured and informative about place or time, and I wish I could do the book justice in review. That is not my skill, but it is certainly the author’s domain. I shall remember this book for a long time to come.

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Compelling, clever & complex!

I couldn't stop listening! The characters are staying with me, and such a clever twist!