Book Review: Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence – Diane Chamberlain – 1999 – Family Drama


Goodreads Summary:


Laura Brandon’s promise to her dying father was simple: to visit an elderly woman she’d never heard of before. A woman who remembers nothing—except the distant past. Visiting Sarah Tolley seemed a small enough sacrifice to make.

But Laura’s promise results in another death. Her husband’s. And after their five-year-old daughter, Emma, witnesses her father’s suicide, Emma refuses to talk about it…to talk at all.


Frantic and guilt ridden, Laura contacts the only person who may be able to help. A man she’s met only once—six years before. A man who doesn’t know he’s Emma’s real father.

Guided only by a child’s silence and an old woman’s fading memories, the two unravel a tale of love and despair, of bravery and unspeakable evil. A tale that’s shrouded in silence…and that unbelievably links them all.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the parts where we dipped back into Sarah’s past, especially her time working at a psychiatric institute. The descriptions of the experiments on the patients, while not graphic, were heartbreaking to learn about but also very interesting. It really makes you understand how much mental health care has developed even since the 1950’s.

As with Diane Chamberlain’s other novels, we are drip fed information about the mystery taking place in both Laura and Sarah’s families, and I thought this mystery was one of Chamberlain’s most compelling.

One of the only things I wasn’t keen on in this book was the ending, as it felt like it was inevitable. Whilst it was interesting hearing the back story of how the characters were in their current situation, I think Laura’s ending was a bit unnecessary.

Also, the UK cover asks the question of Laura’s husbands secrets and whether they should be kept silent to protect her daughter. Yet this is not a big part of the story, and I was never satisfied with the explanation of why Emma wouldn’t talk after her dad’s suicide.

I gave this book 5/5. If you enjoy family dramas, or have read Diane Chamberlain books before I’d definitely recommend picking up Breaking the Silence.

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