Review: The Silent Land – David Dunham

Winter vacation is finally here, and you know what that means right? Reading as many books before the end of the year, of course.

Given that I have more time on my hands I figured I would get some of my ‘shorter’ TBR books off my shelf.

The first, coming in at exactly 300 pages, is The Silent Land by David Dunham.

Partially because it was short, and partially because it was set during World War I, I knew The Silent Land was going to be among the first of my ‘Break Books.’

Was The Silent Land a good choice for my first read of winter break? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.

The Book

Rebecca Lawrence reached a count of sixty in her head and slid her finger into the back pages of her mother’s diary. Mistaking the diary for a book granted her innocence the first time she’d opened it. She had no argument for innocence now.’

Just when Rebecca Lawrence believed joy had come into her life, she learns the truth about how her mother died years before. Marriage to her first love and motherhood pulls her back from resentment, only for the First World War to threaten her peace when her husband is sent to fight.

When she discovers another lie which could fracture her world, she is faced with the choice of ignoring it, or letting the scars of the past corrupt her.

Set between 1903 and 1919, The Silent Land explores the complexities of love and the pursuit of truth in grief. The inspirational purity of the heroine will draw readers in, demonstrating how strength can be found at times when it would have seemed inconceivable.

The Silent Land explores the different shades of grief – the loss of a mother through assisted suicide, the loss of a father through a heart attack, and the loss of a husband through conflict. Comparable to works by Colm Tóibín and Sebastian Faulks, this is a moving and eloquently written tale of the overwhelming struggle faced by women left at home during the war.

The Review 

This book was exceptional.

The first part of this book reminded me of a novel that Jane Austen would have written if she had been setting her novels during the early 1900’s.

The courtship of Rebecca and Rupert was beautiful to read. It was almost reminiscent of Mr. Tilney and Catherine Morland in Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

I also enjoyed the characters of Edward and Aunt Emily, though the latter did get on my nerves from time to time.

I also rather liked that when a character was mentioned, they never really faded from the broader narrative. Tilly, Henry, and even George had there moments in the book but by the end of it weren’t forgotten.

The only thing I didn’t much care for was how the book had a multitude of smaller stories packed into one.

The story of Elizabeth, James, and Rebecca could have been explored in a book of its own, as too could the marriage between Rebecca and Rupert. The gaps in time made me feel as if I was cheated out of a little more time with the characters.

However, the book had the ability to make me appreciate the small snippets of time I did get to read about, and because of that I will be looking forward to Dunham’s next publication.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Purchase Links

Troubador | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

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