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A History of Silence

A History of Silence (Book One of The Heartland Trilogy) is an evocative historical fiction novel that follows the intertwined lives of four women in the mid 1980’s. Professor Madeline Haystead teaches history at a university in southern Texas. Jenny Wharton, a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, is the daughter of one of Maddie’s colleagues, Professor Johnny Wharton. Liz is Jenny’s mother and Johnny’s wife. Jane Meyer is a grad student working as Johnny’s research assistant. But Johnny is a man with many secrets. When he is found murdered in his office, Maddie, Jenny, Liz, and Jane are all affected in different ways by his death. All have reason to have wanted him dead. Is one of these women his killer?

This is a riveting crime fiction novel that will hook readers from the opening line, “Professor Johnny Wharton the Fifth had finally found the ultimate way to keep us all talking about him. He’d gotten himself murdered…” I enjoyed the author’s poignant writing style.

This story is told from the first person perspective of several women. Some authors have an issue with making all their female characters feel too similar to each other, but in this book the characters are distinctly different despite having some similarities. I liked getting to know them as information was conveyed through their own thoughts and inner feelings, rather than just through the lens of other people’s perception of them. There were long passages of internal thoughts that went on for several pages that give you a clear understanding of the characters. This is broken up with flashbacks to convey a character’s backstory. I can tell the author spent a lot of time thinking about the characters because there are several chapters covering various characters’ pasts in the decades before the main part of the storyline.

At first it was hard to see how the various women’s lives tied to each other beyond their separate connections to one man and it felt like reading chapters from several different books about Maddie, Jane, and Jenny and Liz, instead of one cohesive story. But then all the threads started to weave together. There were several unexpected twists in this story that surprised me, including the killer’s motive.

A History of Silence is a fascinating historical fiction novel that will appeal to readers looking for well defined characters in a story with an intriguing mystery.

Pages: 422 | ISBN: 1639886338

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