The Silence

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Pub Date 30 Apr 2020 | Archive Date 1 Sep 2020

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Description

'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

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.

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. At the time, it was 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 Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder. 

Reluctantly, Isla goes back to Australia for the first time in a decade. The return to Sydney will plunge her deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side. Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England — a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve — a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job — is desperate to become a father.  

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. 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.

'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...


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Featured Reviews

I’m being spoilt with great reads lately and here is another one to watch in 2020, Susan Allott’s “The Silence” a quietly emotional and beautifully written novel which has a dark sense of nostalgia to it even as it touches on deeply emotive issues. Two families live side by side, one of their number disappears, a disappearance not noted until over 30 years later. Enter Isla, drawn back to the childhood home she has avoided, thrown by emerging secrets and her own jagged memories.. The Silence revisits a time in Australian history that I knew nothing about, the author captures the sense of time and place pitch perfectly, moving seamlessly between past and present until the truth comes out into the light. The characters are drawn with an intriguing, authentic set of layers, there is a sense throughout that something bad is coming and in the end this is a classic character drama playing out on a wide canvas, holding the reader in it’s grip from first page to last. I thought it was excellent, disturbing yet emotionally resonant, descriptively immersive and with an unforgettable finale. Highly Recommended.

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This book isn't your typical suspensive thriller or whodunnit, its much more than that. When Mandy goes missing, it is assumed that Joe, her neighbour, is the killer as he is the last person who saw her alive. Isla, Joe's daughter, comes home from London back to Australia to help her parents, but also find out more about Mandy and her husband, Steve. Steve is a policeman and works in the forced captivation of Aboriginal Children. this book tells a story about the children who were taken, and in the end at the authors note, Allott talks about how the Australian government have publicly apologised, but the British Gov hasn't. Nor do we Brits really discuss our role in the colonisation and forced captivation and genocide of the Aboriginee's. So thank you Allot for telling their story. Whilst it must be said, this book focuses more on Mandy, her husband, and her neighbours, and the circumstances of her being missing, it does then focus on the aboriginal families lives, but is more heavily weighted on Mandy and family. Nonetheless I think it is a very important book, and a great, gripping read.

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I really enjoyed this beautifully written, Australian-set debut with the harrowing subject of the Stolen Generation at its core - children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families over a period of some sixty years. The Silence takes its readers into two time frames - 1967 and thirty years later. It is 1997 when it finally comes to light that Mandy, wife to Steve - one of the police officers responsible for removing Aborigine children - has not been seen for thirty years. Isla was just a little girl when her next door neighbour and sometime babysitter Mandy went missing and nobody noticed she was gone. Now living in England and trying to take control of her alcoholism, Isla gets a call from her father Joe who is being implicated in Mandy’s disappearance. Isla then returns to her country of birth and starts to excavate long buried and painful secrets. What unfolds is a patient and compelling story which digs deep into Sydney’s dark historical heart, laying bare both racism and patriarchy. An atmospheric read, Allott is clearly a writer with great promise.

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Spanning a period of 30 years this tidy little whodunnit ticks all the boxes and still manages to tastefully deliver a message for the lost generation. Switching seamlessly between the late 1960's and the late 1990's it tells a story of betrayal, lust, anger and jealousy. Joe and Louisa are still settling in to Sydney after emigrating from Leeds and their neighbours Steve and Mandy who are Australian. Their combined actions cause ripples in the lives of the next generation. Absolutely loved it. With thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK

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I loved The Silence not just for the quality of the writing (luminous) or the finesse with which the twists and turns were meted out, but also for the ease with which the setting assimilates the reader into the Australian mindsets of the 1960s. Because the story is so gripping I didn’t even realise how much cultural information I was being cleverly spooned so that I’d have it to hand just as it then turned into a clue, and I had the satisfaction of thinking, Oh, but of course! (as I convinced myself I’d been the one to work it all out...) For the few evenings I’ve been racing through this, Australia has been on our telly because of the wild fires currently raging. The contrast between these images and the neighbourhood Isla returns home to from UK when her father is suspected of involvement in the disappearance of the woman next door thirty years earlier, could not be greater. On the street where Isla grew up - and where Mandy was last seen - everyone has the ocean right at the bottom of their garden. And yet...things still find a way of heating up. Earlier this year I listened to a true crime podcast called Teacher’s Pet which dealt with a similar scenario namely, a well-liked young women disappears from her seemingly idyllic suburban life and nobody raises the alarm until decades have gone by. The terrible thing is that the sort of entrenched sexism that allowed the story at the heart of The Silence to happen in the 1960s was still alive and kicking in the 1980s. In other words, with The Silence, Susan Allott has put her pen right on the pulse of recent Australian experience. Between the juxtaposition of strong female characters our hearts go out to, and the way in which their stories and fates overlapping from the 60s and the 90s, and how harrowing the history of Aboriginal children being removed from their families by the authorities, The Silence is a novel whose time has come. It’s also very easy to imagine The Silence being picked up by Netflix or Showtime as a mini-series. One can only hope Jane Campion and/or Nicole Kidman get their hands on a copy. With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for kindly letting me see an advance copy.

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Just finished reading #TheSilence by @susanallott and really enjoyed it. A suspense filled story set in Australia in the past and more recent present, and one where I learned about an official policy that has haunted generations. A very convincing portrayal of the destruction caused by dysfunctional relationships. Thank you to Netgalley & the publishers for an early proof.

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The Silence is a riveting novel partly inspired by the Australian Government practise of removing Aboriginal children, known as the Stolen Generations, from their families and placing them in state Homes. It is 1997 and Isla leaves London to be with her father in Australia where he is suspected in the disappearance of his next-door neighbour, Mandy, thirty years before. The story tells of the difficult marriage between Isla's parents, who emigrated to Australia from the UK, and the marriage of Mandy and her policeman husband Steve, whose job was to remove Aboriginal children from their families. I found this an excellent book in how the characters are portrayed; also the effect of the disastrous policy towards the indigenous people of Australia on one man, and his inevitable breakdown. This book deserves all the awards in 2020 and I wish it every success. Many thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollinsUK for the opportunity to read and review The Silence.

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Yet another amazing read!! A properly great read couldn’t put it down!! Not what you expect !! All the stars !!

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Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Beautiful, poignant and powerful. One of my favourite reads of the year. Whilst this book is categorised as Mystery/Thriller it is much more than this. In "The Silence" Susan Allott has written a superb piece of literature that is part mystery and part a microcosm of Australia's social history. First the mystery. This aspect of the novel focuses of the disappearance of a young woman named Mandy in the summer of 1967. Then we fast-forward to 1997, and the phone call Isla receives from Mandy's family in London. Isla and her parents Joe and Louisa, were recent immigrants to Australia in the 1960s and lived side-by-side with Mandy and her husband Steve, a policeman. But in the 1990s Mandy is still missing and Joe, Isla's father, is also nowhere to be found. Furthermore, he was the last person to see Mandy and is now under suspicion of her murder. Isla, is consequently forced to return to Australia to confront the past and prise open the secrets that led to the disparate but connected events that span three decades. This is where the story really comes into its own. The juxtaposition of past with present narratives of events encapsulating the lives of Mandy, Steve, Joe and Louisa are handled masterfully by Allott. Indeed, the sometimes jarring nature of the narratives of the 1960s with the 1990s makes it a much more effective and powerful story because the past is seldom confined to the epoch of history where events occurred - it lives too in the present. Isla soon finds this out on her return to Australia, where the secrets and lies of the past gradually reveal themselves - imperceptibly at first, then like a rolling stone gathers moss the momentum picks up until disparate pieces of the jigsaw come together to reveal the full picture. Influential to the plot is a deeply shameful passage in Australian and British history - the forced captivation of Aboriginal Children. The policies were conducted on the basis of a belief in white superiority and that the aboriginal race would eventually die out. I read this with barely supressed anger and I hope you will, too. In reality, less than 30 years after the policies were discontinued, aboriginal identity, cultural revival and political activism have never been stronger. How this ties into the main plot, if at all, will only be revealed when you read this wonderful novel. Susan Allott has emphatically declared in "The Silence" what a rare talent she is on the literary stage. With the understated beauty of her prose, even when the truths she reveals are far from pretty; her carefully cultivated, expertly constructed narrative, this author will undoubtedly attract many admirers for the poignancy and power of her work. "The Silence" is one to look out for in 2020. Susan Allott deserves all the praise that will surely come her way.

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Thanks to Harper Collins and NetGalley for the ARC in return for an unbiased review. To be honest I initially thought this might be too much of a "girly" book for a male in his mid fifties, but thought what the heck, let's give it a go. Can only say how glad I am that I read this publication. An absolutely cracking read about the disappearance of a woman thirty years ago. The thing is, no one realises there is anything suspcious about her being missing until thirty years after. The story revolves around two families and is set mainly in Australia, but partly in the UK over a number of years. Actually think there might be the potential for a film in this script.

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The Silence is a complex, deeply moving and brilliantly written book about an uncomfortable, shameful piece of Australian/British history. It is about flawed people, difficult relationships, buried memories and a compelling mystery about a missing woman. But at the heart of the book is the painful and deeply disturbing history of the separation of children from their Aboriginal families by the State. This is a story which needs to be told and the author has achieved this in an intelligent, sensitive manner. A must read for 2020.

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Fabulous! I wasn't sure really what to expect from this book but I thoroughly enjoyed it, kept me gripped throughout with some strong characters. I won't give anything away except it's centred around Joe and Louise and their troubles plus daughter Isla and Steve and Mandy their neighbours, Steve is a police man and back in the 60's he was part of a team removing aboriginal children from their homes and placing in care homes , a tough job that gets to him. The book spans the 60's and late 90's when Isla is grown up. Mandy went missing ...what happened? Great storyline and characters, can't wait to read more by this Author

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Deeply moving and utterly gripping, The Silence surprised me in its complexity and depth. It is not just a well-written mystery, but also a window into the truth of British and Australian history, the horrors the British empire has committed over the centuries, and the ways in which the indigenous peoples of Australia were harmed by those in power.

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It's hard to believe that The Silence by Susan Allott is a debut novel .If I was given the book and read it without knowing who had written it I'd have guessed at Jane Harper straight away,not just because of it's gritty depiction of life in Australia away from the tourist brochures but by the quality of the writing. The book follows 2 dysfunctional families on 2 timelines , 1997 and 1967 . In 1967 Isla Green is a lively young girl full of energy who idolises her neighbour Mandy in Sydney ,Australia . In 1997 she's a troubled young woman living in London and a phone call from her estranged Father brings her back to Sydney. With her parents Joe and Louisa Isla lives next door to Mandy in 1967 and her morose and troubled husband Steve,. Steve is a policeman with the job of taking away the children of Aboriginal parents as part of the Australian government's appalling "child welfare" policy of the time and the job is making him crack up.. The Greens are recent migrants from England ,Joe is abusive , Louisa is homesick and runs away back to the Motherland taking Isla with her. Events while they are away,Joe persuades them to return, affect the lives of both families, Mandy disappears and Joe is suspected of murdering her when her disappearance is re-examined as a "cold case" investigation.. That's the basis for a tale that is believable,well-written and thought-provoking. Many issues come into the story,amongst them relationships, the problems of migrants ,Australian culture in the 1960's , domestic abuse,alcoholism and mental illness. The main characters are well-drawn,if not particularly likeable. As a former migrant herself Susan Allott shows the stresses of migrant life ,something she's experienced herself and on a personal note I've known 2 couples split after moving Down Under wasn't to the taste of one partner while the other embraced it whole-heartedly. . It's hard to believe that Ms Allott is British given the location of the book and her in-depth knowledge of Australia and it's culture, as I said at the beginning of the review this could very easily be mistaken for the work of one of Australia's best known authors and anyone who enjoys Jane Harper will love this. An excellent book that deserves great success. Big thanks to Susan Allott, HarperCollins UK and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest reviw.

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This is a book I nave been waiting to read but without knowing it. It looks at the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families in the early 1900s and the consequences. This then leads into other t issues about relations between Australia and Britain. What a period of history this was! Shocking and cruel and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of the events this book deals with. This then the powerful background, the main story starts with a young girl returning to Australia to see her father and then finding out secrets about him and her family that deal with shocking historical crimes. AS you might expect, it’s highly emotional and to think the disappearance in the novel is not noted for some 30 years! This was immersive and powerful from the start and I read hungrily buoyed by the great writing and the emotive subject. I read in the author note that the author has a story to tell about homesickness having moved to Australia herself but that she found this story and wove the threads together. This was very cleverly done and I was invested in each and every one of the characters from the start. It’s certainly not easy reading. Certainly not that. The writer moves from past to present with ease and it builds up to a very impressive and heartbreaking finale. This book has broken me. I feel humbled after reading it and kudos to the author for drawing me in, making me care and wanting to learn more about the Aborigine culture and history. I went through the entire gamut of emotions: sadness, grief, anger, shock, admiration and everything inbetween. Highly recommended.

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Wow, this was a stupendous novel from beginning to end, it's not a thriller but kept you turning the pages, I hated having to put it down. The characters were so vivid and the Australian scenery was cleverly described, you could almost feel the heat of the sun on your face, the cool of the ocean and the sound of the cockatoos in the trees. It's one of the best books I've read recently and will definitely and eagerly await more from this author. The scenes will Steve and William in the cabin brought ears to my eyes, I have to warn you. The sensitive subject of what the government were doing in taking children from families was dealt with in a realistic way so you could imagine the horrors these families suffered. For someone like Steve, desperate to start a family of his own, it was all too much and we could understand why. Mandy was such a lively character, we could feel her attraction to Joe and then all his weaknesses taking over as the years went on.. I could see their side by side homes in my imagination very clearly. Amazing book I highly recommend. If I ever thought I could write a book, this is an example of what I could never in a million years achieve or anything close to it.

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Thank you to Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book. I absolutely loved this. It hooked me in from the start with interesting characters and an unusual storyline. When I think about the fact that there were quite a few main characters, two different time periods and two different countries sometimes that can put me off. But in this book none of it matter as I read it in two days. In 1967 Amanda Mallory goes missing and is never seen again or really mentioned until 30 years later. Police are reinvestigating the case and Amanda’s (Mandy’s) next door neighbouhr Joe Green is a prime suspect in her disappearance. Joe’s daughter, Isla, who has been living in London flies back to Australia to support her dad and uncover the truth about what happened 30 years. Really enjoyed it so I give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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The Silence is much more than just a mystery book. The story includes information about the Stolen Generation which occurred during one of the timelines of this book.. It's a sad story but well written and researched. Thanks to NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read this book.

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Loved this, don't know why Australia is producing such good, intense thrillers at the moment but this is one of them. Very atmospheric, character-driven, whodunnit but in the end its a whydunnit. It deals with some gritty issues, childlessness, treatment of the indigenous people of Australia, alcoholism, and keeps a gripping storyline going.

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I was transported to another place and time while reading this book. I really felt I was 'there' in 1960s' Australia and could picture the characters and the street where they lived so well that it all seemed real. The writing was wonderful without ever being intrusive and pulling me out of the world of the story. I loved the character of Mandy in particular and really cared about what happened to her. Even the minor characters (e.g. Andrea on her bike!) were very vividly drawn and real-seeming. It wasn't as much of a page-turner as some books I've read recently, but that was fine - the pace suited the story. I will definitely look out for more books by this author.

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A gripping and well-written book, which I found hard to put down. I would definitely recommend this.

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This is a rich and powerfully written book, exploring the impact of untold secrets both on a family and a national scale. The story follows a family at the centre of a missing person investigation - their neighbour Mandy has not been seen for thirty years, and now Isla’s father seems to be a suspect. As Isla returns home to Australia to try and uncover the truth, a second narrative thread takes us back thirty years to see the events unfold from Mandy’s perspective. A story of love and deceit and broken marriages plays out against the chilling backdrop of the Stolen Generation, Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families by the authorities. In both narratives, the damage of hiding the truth has repercussions that last decades. Absolutely gripping.

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Enjoyed this a lot. It was an easy read and the story kept me engaged all the way through. Although it flips from past to present, it flowed and was an enjoyable read. Loved the characters and the Australian setting, which was a little different but really set the scene. Highly recommended. Thank you Harper Collins UK and NetGalley.

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