Sometimes a blog tour offer lands in my inbox and I shamelessly beg to be included. This is what happened when the lovely Anne Cater offered the opportunity to read and review The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves.
Lots of book people who I know and trust has been raving about this debut on Twitter and I desperately wanted to be involved. So thank you to both Abbie and Ann for the chance to read and review.
Let me say straight away this novel did not disappoint!!!
The premise of the story is a simple but intriguing one. Frank and Maggie have been happily married for many years. Their’s has been a marriage filled with love, trust, respect and compassion. But in recent times darkness has fallen and so has silence.
For the past 6 months not a word has passed between them.
There have been no blazing rows, no thrown plates or slammed doors. Just a terrible secret sadness that has paralysed their relationship and has caused Frank to stop speaking to Maggie.
They have continued to live in the same house, sleep in the same bed, eat meals together, generally co-exist, but Frank finds he is entirely unable to utter a word to his beloved wife.
The novel opens with Frank, six months into his silence finding Maggie collapsed on the kitchen floor. With her life in the balance, Frank is encouraged by a empathic nurse to begin to talk to his now unconscious, but still beloved wife. Through his memories we begin to unpick the terrible secret burdens that Frank has concealed in his silence.
Equally, as the novel progresses, the narrative shifts to present Maggie’s story and we begin to appreciate that this a couple who both holds secrets and fear close.
Without wanting to state the obvious, this is a novel about silence. But it is more than just the nominal silence of Frank. It is the silence of things unspoken; between generations, families and partners. To label silence a theme would be understating it, it is the very core of the novel
This simple but beautiful novel is an exploration of all the things we don’t tell each other. It details and embraces all those secrets within a family, even those that have been together for years, even those that seem transparent, unbreakable, strong.
Here we see the heartbreaking truth of the all too common cycle of pain lending it’s self to silence only leading, inevitably, to more pain.
Through compelling and empathic characters Abbie Greaves has created a moving portrayal of a family touched by mental health issues. She explores how a sudden breakdown in communication, coupled with the pain and complexity of mental ill health, means that someone whom you have loved for so long and so completely can become entirely unreachable.
She embraces the concept of parental guilt. That unavoidable and debilitating urge to pick over what has happened again and again , even those things you can’t control. With heart breaking clarity she portrays the desperate need to make things right, however terrible the events and the pain when this isn’t possible.
Within these pages are both the joy and pain of family relationships. We see how our love for people can spill over into commitments and obligations and how we start to take responsibility for others happiness even when the answers to problems are far beyond our control.
Abbie Greaves lays bare the uncomfortable truths that come with a lack of communication and the internalisation of pain.
The message of this book is clear. Words are important; they sustain us, they support and nurture us. By communicating we risk opening ourselves up to pain but also embrace life saving support, love and solace.
When the author wrote this novel she could never have predicted the strange and scary times her creation would be launched into. In our current situation of self isolation, social distancing and separation we are finding anew just how important communication really is. Be it through Social Media, Zoom, FaceTime, HouseParty, clapping on the door step, rainbows in windows, a simple phone call or a good old fashioned letter; the ongoing sustaining necessity of words is right now being felt across the globe.
This novel may have been conceived in entirely different times but for me it is the perfect novel for right now. Timely, warm and authentic; it is time to let Frank and Maggie speak to you.
And there is more…
For other reviews of this beautiful book check out the rest of The Silent Treatment Blog Tour …