Lies Told in Silence
by M. K. Tod
In May 1914, Helene Noisette’s father believes war is imminent. Convinced Germany will head straight for Paris, he sends his wife, daughter, mother and younger son to Beaufort, a small village in northern France.
But when war erupts two months later, the German army invades neutral Belgium, sweeping south towards Paris. And by the end of September, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front. During the years that follow, with the rumbling of guns ever present in the distance, three generations of women come together to cope with deprivation, fear and the dreadful impacts of war.
In 1917, Helene falls in love with a young Canadian soldier wounded in the battle of Vimy Ridge. But war has a way of separating lovers and families, of twisting promises and dashing hopes, and of turning the naïve and innocent into the jaded and war-weary. As the months pass, Helene is forced to reconcile dreams for the future with harsh reality.
Lies Told in Silence examines love and loss, duty and sacrifice, and the unexpected consequences of lies.
(Wordcount 105,000; ebook $6.99 USD; print $16.99 USD)
Reviews of Lies Told in Silence
5.0 out of 5 stars
By Dianne Ascroft
Recently I had the pleasure of reading Lies Told In Silence by M.K. Tod. It’s a well written, poignant novel and as I read I lost myself in the story, not even bothering to make notes for my review. In fact, I was so captivated by the book that I immediately bought Tod’s first novel, Unravelled, which is the companion to this novel and I am now immersed in the Canadian soldier, Edward Jamieson’s story.
Lies Told In Silence is a romance and a coming of age story set against the backdrop of World War I. The story is told mainly from Helene’s perspective but we do also gain insight into the lives of her parents and her grandmother, revealing how their past experiences have shaped their lives. I empathised with all three generations of Noisette women, watching their relationships with each other develop and their bonds strengthen throughout the course of the war. The dynamics of their relationships are timeless and I found their intertwined experiences especially touching. I found Helene’s first love, Edward Jamieson, an appealing character but rather remote. This isn’t surprising as we only know him through Helene. Each of the main characters is noteworthy but there are also many memorable secondary characters who leave a clear impression in the reader’s mind: the reliable Gaston, the melodramatic Germaine and the pig farmer Monsieur Garnier to name a few.
The story flows effortlessly and at a steady pace between a gentle but realistic coming of age story, an exhilarating romance and a gripping war drama. All the elements come together to form a page turning plot. One of the central themes of the book is that love which develops gradually can be satisfying and enduring. As Helene matures she learns that more than romantic love matters and she must decide how to balance responsibility and passion. It’s a realistic, no nonsense approach to a romantic tale. The happy ending isn’t what you might expect and doesn’t come without heartache to counterbalance it.
As a backdrop to the emotion and drama of the story the author vividly paints beguiling images of the French countryside and small town life as well as harrowing scenes of the battlefields. She is skilled at creating the background details that bring the story to life using all the senses. This includes incorporating the nuances of social convention and the mores of the period into the story. I was so captivated by the town of Beaufort that I was rather disappointed to find that it exists only in the author’s mind.
Lies Told In Silence is a poignant, realistic portrayal of life and love and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or just a good story.
5.0 out of 5 stars
By Tony Riches of The Writing Desk
This is without doubt one of the most moving and engaging books I have read in a very long time. A sense of historical inevitability forms a backdrop to events throughout the book, yet although the reader may know about the decisive battles it is timely, in the centenary of the outbreak of hostilities, to spare a thought for the ordinary people of France, as well as the young soldiers from all over the world who came to their aid.
Taking the unusual viewpoint of an extended French family, we follow the ominous beginnings of the First World War and experience the life-changing impact it has on each member of the family. As a Canadian, Mary brings a certain authenticity to the involvement of allied soldiers in the defence of France, with an eye for convincing details brought together by a powerful narrative.
The title offers a clue to where the story could possibly lead, although I was taken completely by surprise by the turn of events. Lies Told in Silence is the perfect counterpoint to Mary’s first novel, Unravelled, and I hope both will be read by future generations as a way of understanding the human side of the ‘war to end all wars’. Highly recommended.
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