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Painter of Silence: A Novel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608197700
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608197705
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #872,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[An] accomplished work of fiction." --The New York Times

"The novel’s magic lies in Harding’s poignant but unsentimental portrayal of people who face such losses and yet find a kind of wholeness."--O, The Oprah Magazine


“Though Harding’s novel is firmly set in historical time, which is Safta’s reality, Tinu seems to exist on a different plane, and the multiple dimensions give the book a peculiar power.”--Booklist

“Harding has created a memorable portrait in words of an exile from language.”--Kirkus

About the Author

Georgina Harding is the author of the novels The Spy Game and The Solitude of Thomas Cave. She lives in London and the Stour Valley, Essex.

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Customer Reviews

It is a fascinating book.
Lady Fancifull
One wonders how the author could write a book so full of insights into the world of a deaf mute.
Cokeman1
One of the best books I read recently.
BLUAG

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
(4.5 stars) In this sensitive novel about an unusual and touching friendship, author Georgina Harding tells the story of life in a rural community in Romania beginning in the 1930s and extending through World War II and the Communist Occupation. As the novel opens, Augustin, a sick and almost starving man, has just arrived by train in Iasi, a city with which he is unfamiliar. He is looking for Safta, a childhood friend whom he has not seen since they were separated by the war and Communist Occupation. Years ago, they both lived at Poiana, a large country estate some distance from Iasi, where Safta now lives. The novel's narrative moves back and forth in time, changing perspectives as the author alternates the action between Augustin (Tinu), the son of the cook, and Safta, the daughter of Poiana's owners.

Tinu is both deaf and mute, and he is either uninterested in or unable to learn sign language. He can write a few words, but does not seem able to connect them with what they represent in the outside world. His only form of communication is through haunting drawings which he makes with soot and spit on found materials - paper, boxes, wrappings, pieces of cloth - and these drawings reflect an unusually selective view of the world in which the people have no faces and the buildings feel empty. Without a trace of easy sentimentality, the author depicts his life, limited view of the world, and the conclusions he draws about life. Though Safta intuitively understands much of what he feels and tries to teach him to write, she is a child, too, easily distracted by the natural excitements of her own childhood, and she has other friends with whom to spend time, especially in adolescence. "Tinu had a way that let you forget him," she notes, years later.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LouiseC on April 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Set in pre and post World War II Romania, this book tells the story of a deaf mute boy and his childhood friend. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a hauntingly beautiful book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By paula ventre on April 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A unique look at a deaf individual as he negotiates through the harsh maze of life in post W.W.II eastern Europe. Fascinating perspective. The narrative travels back and forth in time, but the threads of survival and salvation remains intact.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull on March 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Georgina Harding has a wonderful gift for the evocation of time, place and the physical heft and weave of life. I read, with absorption, her previous 2 novels The Spy Game, The Solitude of Thomas Cave where her use of language, her quiet and rich ability to really inhabit another person's truthful, unique inner landscape, was mesmerising.

With those earlier 2 books, I got so far, so very far, but could not go to the final 5th star, as something, in each case, did not completely work

With her third book, 5 stars seem mean!

Set in Romania, before the second world war, and finishing some years later, when grim, Stalinist Communism had placed other changes upon that country, her central character is a young, deaf mute baby at the start, child of a servant in the great house, and the parallel life this child, and the daughter of the great house, inhabit. Childhood in the house for both of the infants, who are close in age and in friendship, is described in ways which evoke the much written about Edwardian landscape of pre first world war England - except that we have a much more unchanged, less modern world, in Romania. The children grow, and Tinu, the young boy, finds ways of seeing, interpreting and communicating the world through drawings.

It is a fascinating book. The central character is wordless, and those around him find a strange freedom to share their thoughts because he cannot hear or speak them.

Although a huge narration is happening in the book - the large historical events, much of it a dreadful history, Harding does not dwell on the narrative - changes are experience by snapshot images - she is a real adept at show-not-tell - for example, the couple in the city, and the relationship of fear and control set up by the Party machinery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Augustin has been born deaf and has never spoken. He watches the world avidly, and comes to draw his truth from the world he sees.
Throughout World War II and the Communist reign that follows, Augusten's reality is drawn only from inference.
A fascinating thread throughout this book is the perception that people around him have of this man. Each person projects the needs and the past onto him. He is the reflection of one woman's lost son, another's vanished lover, the absence of daughters now in prison. As he moves around Roumania, people speak to him, unloading their hearts to the man they know will not betray them.
We see the world through his eyes and at other times, the world and the perception of Augustus by those who come to care.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Laid waste by war, revolution and perverse dictatorship, Romania can surely claim to be one of the European countries with the most distressing history of the twentieth century. "Painter of Silence" gives a powerfully humane account of the loss and suffering this entailed in a fictional rendering of the lives two very different young people who through happenstance grew up together - one the beautiful daughter of the landed nobility and the other a mute trained for service on her family estate. Tracking backward and forward through the intensely troubled decades of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, Georgina Harding reconstructs their experiences, bringing healing and understanding for her characters and her readers in the most sensitive way imaginable.
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