Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain

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Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: Another engrossing family saga from the pen of Diane Chamberlain. Selective muteness, depression, mental illness are just some of the sensitive issues tackled here - but with all this going on can there possibly be a happy ending for one particular family?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: January 2011
Publisher: Mira Books
ISBN: 978-0778304142

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As I've reviewed several of Chamberlain's previous books and enjoyed them, I was looking forward to getting stuck in to this one. We meet the central character; wife and mother to five-year-old Emma, Laura. She's distraught. Her father (Emma's grandfather) has just passed away but his dying wish has really upset Laura. It's a strange request and she doesn't know what to make of it. She confides in her husband thinking that two heads are better than one. He's a brilliant academic and could give some much-needed advice. But he doesn't. In fact, he behaves like a five-year-old himself and almost has a tantrum. Odd. Now poor Laura's doubly confused, upset and doesn't know how to handle her grief. Tough times.

Could things get any worse? Well, in a word, yes. And they do. While the kindly (almost saintly) Laura is carrying out her father's wish - a tragedy is unfolding back at home. It involves her husband and young daughter - but Laura's too late to do anything constructive. The damage is done. Emma reacts very badly to the incident and she decides not to utter another word - to anyone. Not even to her mother. The family therapist says that it's just Emma's way of coping with grown-up events way beyond her comprehension. But will she ever speak again?

And Chamberlain's warm, conversational tone sets the scene. Very easy to get into the story and also to connect with the characters. And as the plot develops, some sinister facts float to the surface. Ugly and upsetting facts. The complex (but not complicated if you get my drift) web of characters and situations are both excellent and utterly believable. The mix of characters is good too - there's this elderly woman living in a residential home with a mind-boggling history, there's Laura's husband who is prickly - what's he got to be prickly about? Laura's love-life, post tragedy is also engaging.

But, for me, Chamberlain does her best work with young Emma. I felt as if I was on this precarious and rather scary, personal journey with Emma. I was with her, holding her hand, as she underwent her many therapy sessions. And there's plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader happy - and guessing.

The title is arresting and does exactly what it says on the tin. At its core, this story centres on how a young girl deals with huge events. How a normal, lively, chatty child can retreat into a silent shell. And even although she is part of a loving family, it may surprise you to find out who may eventually - break her silence.

Chamberlain has a nice line in suspense also. The whole father/daughter scenario is drip-fed to the reader. I was keen to find out more than Chamberlain deigned to tell me. Nice touch. I thought I was on the right track but was proved wrong towards the end. This is my favourite book to date, of Chamberlain's. Once again, she delivers in this appealing story. I think her fans (and I count myself amongst them) will not be disappointed. It's one of those books which you can curl up with on a lazy, Sunday afternoon and thoroughly get lost in. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try The Bay At Midnight and Before The Storm both also by Diane Chamberlain.

Buy Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain at

Buy Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain at


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