The Other Side of Silence by Sylvie Nickels

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The Other Side of Silence by Sylvie Nickels

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An enthralling story with a mystery at its core which reaches back to Finland at the end of the nineteen thirties. An engaging heroine carries the story well.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 244 Date: May 2012
Publisher: Oriole Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781762684

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Pippa Eastman went to Australia to get away from her domineering father, the historian Joseph Eastman and it was there that she met Jude, the son of two Ten Pound Poms. Their relationship was good, but not exactly committed on either side. It was about having fun. Familial ties were surprisingly strong though and when Joseph Eastman developed Alzheimer's Disease Pippa returned to the UK to care for him. Slightly to her surprise, Jude followed her - determined to track down the alcoholic father who had left him and his mother in Australia. It's only after her father's death that Pippa finds herself in search of her father's life - and trying to establish that he wasn't a murderer.

Joseph Eastman had quite a history too. His father was Josef - a Russian soldier - and his mother was Finnish. They met at the time of the Finnish-Russian Winter War of 1939 but were not together for long as Josef sent his wife and child to safety in Sweden and then disappeared - the fate of so many people who found themselves in the wrong place at this dreadful time. Years later Pippa's father would return to Finland and it was the death of a man who might well have informed the authorities about Josef which was thought - probably - to be down to Pippa's father.

Sylvie Nickels knows Finland. She knows the country and she speaks the language. It's easy to tell that the parts of the book set in Finland are written from deep knowledge rather than research. This is an author who knows far, far more than she tells you and there's no sense of someone who needs to shoehorn in every fact she's accumulated. I was mesmerised by the descriptions of the light and I could feel the climate. I've read quite a bit recently about the late nineteen thirties in Scandinavia and The Other Side of Silence shone a light into a little-known period of history. I was so involved that I ended up with my old school atlas open so that I could track what had happened.

I liked Pippa and Jude - although I wasn't entirely convinced that they were right for each other. This might be because Pippa's story seemed to far outweigh Jude's and I became so involved in the compelling mystery of exactly what had happened in Finland all those years ago that I rather lost interest in Jude. Pippa seemed to come off the page well too - I really do hope that she's not making a mistake with that young man!

The book would have benefited from a more attentive proof read, but it's a good story and I really enjoyed reading it. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more from Sylvie Nickels - this time about the former Yugoslavia, we can recommend Another Kind of Loving. For more from Finland you might like to try At the Edge of Light by Maria Peura.

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Buy The Other Side of Silence by Sylvie Nickels at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Other Side of Silence by Sylvie Nickels at


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