Finding silence


The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

Hot on the heels of having read Shtum, I found I was fascinated by the concept of silence in this book.  Maybe I went looking for it, but for me silence dominated the story.

It’s the story of Lisa who’s suicide completely shaped her sister Riley’s life, including her career. Yet Riley has no memory of her sister. Lisa chose silence long before she was made silent, interesting for a musician.

However, the most telling silence comes from her father.  His death ensures his silence, but it’s his silence in the past that has defined Riley’s life and that of her brother, Danny.

Danny’s own silence is interesting. He won’t share with Riley the PTSD issues he is grappling with, sharing only that the damage is to his soul.  Ultimately, Danny is quite vocal both in his view of Lisa and in deciding the future.  His silence gives Riley what she most needs.

Violet the violin, is a most interesting character, one that is silent through the whole book, but looms over the family.  Wordlessly, pointing out what they lost and the lack of talent that Riley and Danny have. In fact, Violet knows just what happened. And won’t or can’t tell.

Then there’s the mystery woman at the very start of the book, she remains silent over many years. And why is that? When she does speak, she is silent and yet not silent. In fact, she starts the silent avalanche that hits Riley.  (Pay attention to chapter 18 – thanks to Diane for that tip!).

Like Violet, another inanimate object – the jade necklace – shares with Riley a powerful truth.

Its a richly crafted and intriguing book, beautifully written.  Yes, there are issues with the ending and I was left with more questions than I would normally like. But equally the ending is now mine to craft. Maybe it’s all good but maybe it’s not?