Tuesday, 7 July 2015
The Quality of Silence- Rosamund Lupton
On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska.
Within hours they are driving alone across a frozen wilderness
Where nothing grows
Where no one lives
Where tears freeze
And night will last for another fifty-four days.
They are looking for Ruby's father.
Travelling deeper into a silent land.
They still cannot find him.
And someone is watching them in the dark.
I, along with what felt like half the country, was blown away by Rosamund Lupton's debut novel Sister back in 2010. Lupton writes with such a strong, striking voice that when I was approached to review her most recent release The Quality of Silence, I jumped at the chance.
Ruby and her Mum Yasmin are desperately searching for Ruby's father who they've been told is dead, but they believe to be alive. Leaving the safety of the UK to search the desolate Alaskan landscape, they are suddenly vulnerable in a strange, unfamiliar place. I definitely found the setting unsettling- the barren land, the lack of people, the unforgiving climate- I was left with chills in every sense.
I loved that protagonist Ruby is a young girl, because even in contemporary fiction there are relatively few authors who choose to take this route. That in itself was refreshing. That Ruby is deaf is another brave choice for Lupton- but it opens up a whole new world of sensory descriptions which add to the dream-like quality of this book. She's a strong-minded individual and so perceptive- I liked her immediately.
The writing is, as I expected, gorgeous. Every word seems to have been selected with great care, and I'd suggest Lupton might be shifting further towards the literary fiction genre with The Quality of Silence. There's still the key elements of thriller/mystery, the central issue of trust and well-crafted relationships that were evident in Sister (I haven't read Afterwards so can't comment on that), but this book has a less commercial feel and possibly a more niche readership.
This probably wouldn't be a book I'd have normally chosen to read, especially not in the height of summer- I'm quite surprised this wasn't released closer to Christmas!-but I appreciate the skill and craftsmanship of The Quality of Silence. It was a slow burning start, but once Ruby and Yasmin reached Alaska I was drawn into this mysterious foreign land and wanted to know the outcome.
Gut-wrenching, heart-warming, and bone-chilling.
The Quality of Silence is out now in hardback and ebook formats.
Many thanks to the publisher Little, Brown for providing me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.