The Quiet Whispers Never Stop
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BUTLER LITERARY AWARD 2022
by Olivia Fitzsimons
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Pub Date 14 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 14 Apr 2022
John Murray Press, JM Originals
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BUTLER LITERARY AWARD 2022
'Powerful' Irish Times
'Darkly beautiful' Irish Sunday Independent
'Captivating' Jan Carson
'Dazzling' Danielle McLaughlin
'Utterly absorbing' Kit de Waal
'Brilliantly observed' Elaine Feeney
'A huge achievement' Niamh Boyce
In 1982, Nuala Malin struggles to stay connected, to her husband, to motherhood, to the smallness of her life in the belly of a place that is built on hate and stagnation. Her daughter Sam and baby son PJ keep her tethered to this life she doesn't want. She finds unexpected refuge with a seventeen-year-old boy, but this relationship is only temporary, a sticking plaster on a festering wound. It cannot last and when her chance to leave Northern Ireland comes, Nuala takes it.
In 1994, Sam Malin plans escape. She longs for a life outside her dysfunctional family, far away from the North and all its troubles, free from her quiet brooding father Patsy, who never talks about her mother, Nuala; a woman Sam barely knew, who abandoned them twelve years ago. She finds solace in music, drugs and her best friend Becca, but most of all in an illicit relationship with a jagged, magnetic older man.
She is drawn to him, and he to her, in a way she can't yet comprehend.
Sam is more like her mother than she knows.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 22 members
A lyrical literary novel with wit and beautiful observations. The Quiet Whispers Never Stop is a coming of age story for Sam as she gets enchanted by the charms of an older man, Naoise, but it also tells the story of her absent mother Nuala, who battles overwhelming feelings of dissatisfaction, entrapment and claustrophobia in her small town life and makes plans to leave everything behind. The rhythm of the novel's smart dialogue drew me into these character's lives immediately and despite the central women sometimes making destructive choices, they are written with such empathy and vivacity you always wish for better for them. The Northern Irish setting made for an interesting and tension filled backdrop and the inclusion of historical context was subtly and skilfully done. Despite a sadness at the heart of the novel, I was left with a feeling of hope that Sam would manage to escape and live her life in a way her mother had not managed to. An incredibly strong debut. I can't wait to see what Olivia Fitzsimons writes next.
An exemplary debut from Olivia Fitzsimons! What a writer! "The Quiet Whispers Never Stop" is simply stunning. It's beautifully written, moving, raw and real. It's about mothers and daughters, and how alike they can be, despite years of separation. Also, fathers and daughters who struggle to relate to one another. "The Quiet Whispers Never Stop'' reverberates with unfulfilled dreams and ennui, shot through with tiny slivers of hope and a whole lot of longing. Fitzsimons relays the horrors of the Troubles in Northern Ireland with stark honesty. She shows us how it feels to live in a community permanently steeped in fear. The central theme is an exploration of the old adage "every girl loves a bad boy". I felt so much compassion for both Sam and her mother - a testament to the skill of the author, as she strips back the layers of a character who isn't, on the surface, very sympathetic. I really loved everything about this book and can't wait to see what this author does next. An absolute belter of a debut and surely an award-winner.
This is such a fantastic and tender debut novel from Olivia Fitzsimons. As a contemporary novel it manages to expertly feel both refreshing and incredibly accomplished. because of her talent. Immediately transporting the reader to a very real Belfast in the 1980s and 1990s - the story switches between Nuala and her daughter Sam. In the 1980s Nuala is a young mother with two babies balancing her loss on a knife edge between the demands of her family and her desires. The long-lasting impact of Nuala’s departure on her teenage daughter Sam years later provides a wonderful interplay between the roles women and girls are expected to play in family and religious life, and what happens when these desires and dreams lie unfulfilled. Set around the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Fitzsimons takes such care to bring readers into the heart of Sam’s teen life alongside the political and religious divisions, the heartbreaking way she teeters on the edge of rebellion, showing her raw longing amidst gossip and expectation. Attracted to an older man Sam is yet to uncover so much about her mother and herself through her relationship with him. The story is tender and beautifully narrated, in two clear raw and original voices from Sam and Nuala. A cast of characters are tenderly woven in to make an impact and Fitzsimons writes so lyrically and tender that every lunge Sam makes is felt by honestly and deeply. Desire is explored so well, I was truly engrossed. I cannot recommend this novel enough to anyone seeking a clever, lyrical and explosive coming of age novel. Fitzsimons is a terrific writer and certainly one to watch!
With the conflict in Northern Ireland looming heavily on the shoulders of everyday people, this novel centres on the lives of mother, Nuala and daughter, Sam as they navigate coming of age, innermost desires, and life changing decisions. Both driven by a catalyst that links past and present, The Quiet Whispers Never Stop is a compelling debut, the writing succinct and unflinching. I’m still thinking about these characters! Very much look forward to reading more from the author.
This is a heart breaking yet ultimately hopeful book, following the life of Sam, the protagonist, though her late teens and giving us a glimpse of her missing mother Nuala, and her life in the same small town after just having Sam. It’s a confronting read, which challenges just about every expectation in women, particularly then, and in doing so creates two exceptional characters, bit of whom I adored. Sam’s journey of self discovery/coming of age is fraught with difficulty, but she emerges, and she is wonderful! The writing is beautiful too. A real triumph of a novel.