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Whispers Hardcover – April 1, 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Giving a contemporary twist to this bittersweet tale, accomplished storyteller Plain ( Tapestry ) revisits familiar terrain: the intricate landscape of an extended family. The Fergusons seem to have it all. Lynn runs their comfortable home in an affluent Connecticut suburb, her husband Robert is headed for a major position with his corporation and their eldest daughter Emily has been accepted at Yale. But it's a facade. Robert's inexplicable rages lead him to physically abuse Lynn; at times he is cruelly dictatorial with Emily and her troubled younger sister Annie. Passive and confused Lynn convinces herself that Robert is just a particularly demanding husband and father. But counsel from her sharply perceptive and independent friend Josie, combined with the shrewd advice of a calculating womanizer and an afternoon with Robert's aunt force her to face her family's problems. By avoiding melodrama and sentiment, by getting under the skin of each of her diverse characters, Plain delivers a story of considerable impact. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

The plight of the battered wife is the subject of Plain's latest (Treasures, 1992; Harvest, 1990, etc.)--in which an Iowa- bred suburban Connecticut housewife and mother suffers the sporadic rages of a successful career husband. ``To live with Robert was to dwell in sunlight for months and months; then suddenly a flashing storm would turn everything into darkness....'' Although Robert at first blamed Lynn for the drowning death of their toddler, he had been cautioned in his judgment by wiser heads, and now, in 1988, Robert and Lynn live--to the public at least--in harmony in a comfortable house filled with tasteful things: ``Either the best or nothing'' is Robert's dictum. Handsome, certainly involved with his family, hard-working, and on his way up, Robert, who also enjoys giving thoughtful gifts, is surely still the man Lynn fell in love with. But a dinner jacket not packed for an important business trip, a crazy suspicion of interest in another man, too sharp an argument, then--the violence, followed by Robert's cringing apology. Some friends and acquaintances ``know''--kind Bruce and his dying wife, Josie; lawyer Tom Lawrence, who seems to take an unusually strong interest in Lynn; and the family of teenaged Harris, boyfriend of Lynn and Robert's daughter Emily. Meanwhile, the children, Emily and Annie, seek their own refuges and rebellions, but it is not until after the birth of baby Bobby--and some sleuthing that reveals the truth about Robert's first marriage--that Lynn accepts her loss--and is nearly murdered. This time out, Plain covers the essentials in her psychological profiles of batterer and batteree--in a straightforward tale about a gentle woman determined to make the best of things and a man whose bright blue eyes can suddenly blaze black. A shoo-in, of course. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for Spring) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 331 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (April 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385299281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385299282
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,734,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was a brillant look into a battered woman's life. It showed that not all women are beaten everyday and every night by drunken husbands, but some are beaten irregularly and abused mentally as well, but its all the same. They are all battered women. This story got to the very heart of the matter and even had the reader feeling sorry for the husband and seeing through the wife's eyes how at times she couldn't help but love him madly and forgives him so many times you have to wonder what will happen.
~Robert and Lynn Ferguson are the 'perfect' couple in everyone's eyes, except Lynn's best friend, Josie, a social worker and her husband, Bruce Lehman. They suspect and know the awful truth that the couple keeps hidden.
Robert is a very accomplished businessman with the world at his feet and wants the best for his family. His two daughters strive for perfection, but cannot seem to live up to the demanding standards. Lynn tries to keep the peace in the family and has given up her life to please his unreasonable demands because she is convinced she is in love with him and he is just overworked and stressed, he doesn't mean to hit her off and on or push her around when he is feeling irritable. Don't all husbands get stressed? She can deal with it...she thinks. Until one night things get out of control and Lynn must make a heartwrenching decision that will affect her life and the lives of her daughters.
Unbelieveable story of love and heartbreak. I loved this story and how real it was. Ms. Plain got right under the skin of the characters and made you see them for who they really are. So much so that you feel sorrow for Robert and wish he could work his rage out so they're 20 year marriage can be saved. A definate worthwhile read and not what I expected. It opened my eyes to a different world. Very educational.
Tracy Talley~@
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved this book. The characters were very believable. Robert Sr., the husband of the protagonist is a spouse batterer. He also verbally abuses their daughter because of her weight problem. The protagonist unfortunately and unwisely stays with this verbally, physically and mentally cruel man because she sees no other options for herself. The daughter wisely runs away after her father has belittled her one too many times. She travels out of state, which makes her a more affluent and resourceful runaway than many. I loved Bruce and despite what another reviewer has written, was glad the protagonist found a loving man instead of settling for that beast Robert, Sr.
I was sorry she did not protect her children sooner and I also wish she had not named their son after his cruel father. I wouldn't have named a donkey after him!
Belva Plain's books are a treat for me. Unlike another reviewer notes, I am glad she steers clear from tired, cliche bedroom scenes replete with graphic descriptions of physical intimacy. Hers is the gentle allusion to physical contact and her books are, in my estimation, entertaining, thought provoking and extremely well written.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert and Lynn Ferguson live in a lovely home in an exclusive Connecticut community. Robert is very succesful and on the outside this couple and their children appear to be the "perfect family" with no problems. Even their best friends, Bruce and Josie Lehman don't know of Lynn's shame, but after a few incidents begin to suspect that all is not well in the Ferguson household.......Bruises appear on Lynn frequently and Josie who is a social worker questions her friend, but Lynn always makes excuses and explains away her bruises as"accidents". In addition to this, the Ferguson children begin to show disturbing behavior.....The wall that Lynn has built cannot come down until she face the truth of her husband's anger and abuse toward her......The very serious subject of this well written story opens our eyes to the fact that not only poor people exerience abuse, but also the rich people are not immune to this behavior. This is something that people only whisper about.
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By Suzi on January 12, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very timely story since a lot of attention is being given to spousal abuse in the news. An uncomfortable peek behind the closed doors of a marriage that looks so good on paper. The fiction takes over when 2 desirable men are there to pick up the pieces. Really felt like fiction. Glad it had a happy ending but I think really the ending would be much different.
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Format: Audio Cassette
I found Whispers to be a wonderfully written book. This book shows that it's not the stereotypical poor women with drunk husbands who beat them. The couple in this book, the Fegusons, are a wealthy couple who are admired by many in their community. The husband, Robert is a possessive man who blames his wife for things that are out of her control. He expects Lynn to live by his rules. In this book it is evident that the children are affected by his cruelty as much as Lynn is. There are a few twists and turns in this book that keep it interesting. You are on the edge of your seat waiting for the next rampage to occur just to see if she will finally leave him. The ending is very interesting and suspenseful. A wonderful read!
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By Vet on March 21, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This all about the ups and down of a person battered but in denial. It makes you appreciate all your true friends and wonder if you are putting yourself as a priority or a doormat. I really liked how it showed true rational on why she stayed and courage to do what needed to be done. Well written good momentum.
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