The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

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The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A thriller dripping with mortal danger and gripping suspense as a woman and her 10 year old daughter travel across Alaska to find their husband/father. The baddie may be conveniently topical but a super-exciting climax and a surprise ending ensure it's a gripping read for the summer.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: July 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0349408125

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Richard and Judy Spring Book Club 2016

Matt, a wildlife film maker is reported to have perished in a fierce fire that sweeps through the first nation Alaskan village in which he's working. All that's left of him is his wedding ring. This is a huge shock to his wife Yasmin who has flown to see him with their 10 year old daughter Ruby. Yasmin has come to talk to Matt to see if they still have a relationship worth saving. Some would say that his death is an answer to that question but Yasmin doesn't accept that. She doesn't even accept he's dead and will search the frozen Alaskan wastes to prove it.

Rosamund Lupton shot into the bibliophile consciousness in 2010 when her debut novel Sister received literary acclaim and sales of nearly 1.5 million worldwide. This understandably placed it in both the New York Times and Sunday Times best seller lists. There followed Afterwards in 2013 and this, Quality of Silence makes three novels to date, all thrillers about normal women reacting to abnormal circumstances.

Actually Sister and The Quality of Silence also have something else in common. In Sister the heroine Beatrice goes on what others think a fruitless journey to find a sister who is feared dead. This is precisely what Yasmin does when common sense (in the form of the Alaskan police) tell her that Matt has gone. There is one difference though: Yasmin has Ruby in tow.

Ruby may be a worry to her mother as they venture forth but the child is a useful additional dimension to the story. The chapters alternate between Yasmin's tale of her past with Matt and her take on what's happening now and then Ruby's view of the same. In this way we're presented with a total panorama of descriptions and ideas.

Via Yasmin we understand why she attempts to surmount the insurmountable as well as the blessings and disadvantages of raising a deaf child plus a love story that was never going to be conventional. Via Ruby we glimpse the silent life of deafness in a hearing world and, through her young eyes, we see the untamed beauty in the wilds of Alaska.

Yes, there are moments when Ruby also feels fear but her lack of hearing and her mother cushioning her from events means she never fully appreciates the hopelessness of the mission or how close they are to danger; a threat that comes courtesy of a phantom stalker as well as the environment.

The only thing about the story with which I'm not entirely comfortable is the one-sided demonisation of the fracking industry. Personally I'm not pro-fracking but raising the industry up as a baddie without reason or redeeming features seems a little unfair and goes back to the tradition that brought us two-dimensional baddies with Russian accents during the cold war etc. However, Rosamund does imbue them with much menace, increasing the adrenalin rushes.

Any reservation I may have had when I read the novel was swept aside as we race to an incredibly gripping climax. (Just call me shallow!) Rosamund gradually builds tension throughout the novel but goes hell for leather through a final third that leaves us totally breathless and hanging on right to that almost poetic ending.

It's not hard to see why Rosamund has been among the best seller authors in the past and now, with The Question of Silence and that final page, she's guaranteed a place for a lot longer.

(Thank you to the good folk at Little, Brown for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you enjoy a thriller centred around a strong female character, or just a ripping good thriller, we recommend Second Life by S J Watson.

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