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House of Silence Kindle Edition
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My Rating: 4/5 stars
In 1875, it just wasn’t proper for a woman to have an opinion of her own, let alone, voice that opinion. When Isabella Larkin not only voices an opinion, but voices one that disparages her fiancée, well, things go so very, very wrong. In fact, things go so wrong, Isabelle finds herself in desperate need of protection and the only place she can find that protection is in a sanitarium as a voluntarily committed patient.
When Isabelle checks into the sanitarium, she does so as a self-imposed mute. Until she can prove the truth of her words, Isabelle intends to keep her silence and from the safety of the sanitarium, she can bide her time and form a plan. Trouble is, a woman going about on her own in the late 19th century just wasn’t proper so proving her story isn’t going to be easy. In fact, in order to help herself, Isabelle is going to have to trust someone and that hasn’t gotten her anything but trouble in recent history. She trusted bother her fiancé and her mother and those two took betrayal to an epic new level.
Life in the sanitarium isn’t at all what Isabelle expected. The woman range from the truly mentally ill to the in-desperate-need-of-rest, and all contribute to the community in some way. From gardening to sewing, the women are generally occupied during the times they are not with one of the doctors. For Isabelle, the safety of the sanitarium and the hours of manual labor allow her time to ponder her situation and suss out a way to prove her story.
As it happens, Isabelle isn’t quite as safe as she originally thought, and when her fiancé’s lackeys start sniffing around the sanitarium, Isabelle’s contentions about her fiancé are confirmed. With the few clues the lackeys left behind, Isabelle begins to put the pieces together regarding her fiancé and his shady past. But, Isabelle doesn’t work alone, and those she enlists to help her are of the most surprising element.
The path to proving her story isn’t an easy one as Isabelle is incredibly vulnerable when she goes outside the confines of the sanitarium. Her companions (she must have them!) are the only two people in the world she truly trusts, and both frequently try and talk her out of her course of action. But, Isabelle is determined, and even when her life is threatened, she persists. Her fiancé proves to be as dangerous as she already knew him to be and by the time all is said and done, Isabelle damn-near loses her life. What she gains, however, is far more precious and worth every chance Isabelle takes.
The Bottom Line: I have long been a fan of historical fiction, and House of Silence certainly fits the bill. The historical aspects of this read can be found in both the sanitarium and the secondary character of the widowed Mrs. Lincoln. With there being only very limited information surrounding these two elements, the fictitious story of Isabelle Larkin was concocted as a means by which to tell Mrs. Lincoln’s story. The most fascinating parts of House of Silence revolved, not around Mrs. Lincoln, but around life in the sanitarium and the lengths a woman had to go to in the late 19th century to not only ne heard, but believed. I can’t imagine Isabelle’s story was an isolated event (though perhaps not all as extreme!) and her struggle for vindication must have been one fought by many women of the period. For me, Mrs. Lincoln was nothing more than a means by which to further Isabelle’s story rather than the other way around. The mystery surrounding Isabelle’s fiancé isn’t all that deep or dangerous, but it is just right for this read. While the overall tone of the book is somewhat dark and subdued, there is an HEA sure to satisfy most readers.
On advice from Amazon, and based on their emailed reply I can say – “My review is given voluntarily and the Author/publisher does not require a review in exchange for the book, or attempt to influence my review.”
When it came to ‘House of silence’ I wasn’t too sure what to expect as it seemed to be a women’s fiction more than a mystery… but it ended up being a bit of both and that suited me just fine.
It was a wonderful, well-paced story containing relatable characters. I could also feel the research and passion for the story about this real life house that Ms Barthnel put into the book. To me, that made it all the more engrossing to read. When the author is loving what they are writing, you can tell and you often then start to fall in love with it too. Or maybe this was just me? If it was, I don’t care! I enjoyed it, I was entertained, I felt for the heroine and was glad she got the ending she did. The book also left me wanting to learn “what happens next?” and any novel that does that get a gold star from me. :-)
Would I recommend this book to others?
Yes I would. Though I would find myself trying to explain that it’s not your typical mystery/ thriller… not even a cosy. It’s more of an adventure mystery. I mean, yes the mystery was still there… but I felt “House of Silence” was almost more a coming of age tale as it was a mystery. Yeah, that about makes it as clear as mud, right?
But I would still recommend it as, unlike other books written in this era, “House of Silence” is believable and well written. So lovers of this era who like a tale of a women coming of age as well as solving a few things along the way will enjoy this book.
Would I buy this book for myself?
Honestly, I’m not too sure. I mean, I did enjoy it and could possibly see myself wanting to re-read it again in the future… but I can’t say it grabbed me enough to want to buy it now. If that makes sense? Right now it is more of a library book level where I liked it and might return to it again. But I feel I would like to read more from the author before I would purchase it.
But please remember I am a book diva these days as I just have so many I fear losing track of them all and so have started restricting how many I buy and how many I merely borrow. It’s a great read so please don’t let my opinion on whether I’d own it or now sway your decision.
In summary: An entertaining read and definitely something to enjoy over the weekend while relaxing on the couch.
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