I am delighted to share my review today for The Silence Project by Carole Hailey. This is a very thought-provoking novel set in the near future and I adored it.
My huge thanks to Corvus Books who granted my request to read and review this book via NetGalley.
On Emilia Morris’s thirteenth birthday, her mother Rachel moves into a tent at the bottom of their garden. From that day on, she never says another word. Inspired by her vow of silence, other women join her and together they build the Community. Eight years later, Rachel and thousands of her followers around the world burn themselves to death.
In the aftermath of what comes to be known as the Event, the Community’s global influence quickly grows. As a result, the whole world has an opinion about Rachel – whether they see her as a callous monster or a heroic martyr – but Emilia has never voiced hers publicly. Until now.
When she publishes her own account of her mother’s life in a memoir called The Silence Project, Emilia also decides to reveal just how sinister the Community has become. In the process, she steps out of Rachel’s shadow once and for all, so that her own voice may finally be heard.
This was a brilliant book to read and the cover as well as the synopsis definitely caught my eye. This is a dystopian novel set in the near future. Rachel, a wife and mother decides to go to the bottom of the garden to live, she doesn’t tell anyone why she has done this as she has decided to stop speaking. She decides that she is going to listen to the world around her and while this sounds like a good thing to do she has walked out on her daughter’s 13th Birthday.
The story flits back and forth from the perspective of the daughter, Emilia. There are also accounts in the form of emails from various other people mentioned in the story. I do have to remember that this is a work of fiction but it does read quite alarmingly as an actual account of something that may have happened.
While this story is about Emilia, it is also much more profound than that. It tells of how a simple action from Rachel gradually gathers momentum, attention and publicity. All this is going on while Emilia is growing up as a teen than as an adult. In the future setting the author brings a different turn than I expected, but it does actually work well within the story.
This could so easily be seen as a work of fact, and there are many factual events that are included. Trying to work out or remember what has happened against the fictional events is something that made me shudder at times. In a world where the population is rising, where people are starving, and the climate is changing there are groups that are standing up and making their voices heard. This is where I think this story is clever as it is the absence of a voice that makes the loudest noise.
The beginning half of the book deals with life, how people are being drawn to Rachel and how her simple act of not talking but listening to others gains momentum. This gradually leads to an Event that shocks the world and for a moment the world is silent together in horror. After the Event, the story takes on a more sinister and troubling but also very understandable turn. The Event has given the Community as it is referred to a momentum that cannot be stopped. While I am not going to say much more about this, it does actually feel that it could happen and this is the shocking part of the story.
I have noticed that this book has many reviews and that readers are divided. For me, it worked incredibly well and I adored it. It was a story that I thought about when I wasn’t reading it and one that drew me straight back into it when I picked it up again.
I enjoyed this one a lot, it comes across as being a possibility in a world that is full of negativity at the moment and I can understand the thought behind the positivity and hope that the author expresses through her silent character. The role of the daughter being caught up in her mum’s actions is given in a very convincing way and this made it a very readable story.
If you are a fan of dystopian fiction then this is one that may interest you. I for one am very glad I spotted this book and read it and I would definitely recommend it as it is very thought-provoking.
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