The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton is a slow burner of a novel about desperation and adventure. It is her third novel and is very different to her other novels.
I really enjoyed Sister and really want to read Afterwards. However I felt that this novel was completely different to Sister…
On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska. Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness.
Where nothing grows.
Where no one lives.
Where tears freeze.
And night will last for another 54 days.
They are looking for Ruby’s father. Travelling deeper into a silent land.
They still cannot find him. And someone is watching them in the dark.
Although the characters are all really well developed, some of the characters feature far less than others (which obviously makes sense when you think about the plot of the book). We learn about Matt through Yasmin and Ruby’s memories, but only a limited amount- most of the novel is focused on Ruby and Yasmin’s struggle to find Matt, and the challenges they face in trying to do so. Yasmin and Matt’s relationship is, for most of the novel, a question mark.We learn about the early days of their relationship, but not a great deal between then and Matt leaving to work in Alaska- but it all seems to have gone quite wrong in that time, and their marriage is on ‘thin ice’ (…groan, sorry!) It leaves things between them quite uncertain and a little mysterious for the reader. I was really hoping all the way through that Matt would be OK, but as the novel goes on it looks less and less likely…(won’t give too much away though).
I really liked the fact that Ruby is deaf is not shown as a negative, but just as a different quality to her which she deals with well. It’s interesting that her parents seem to be more worried about her deafness, and how it affects Ruby, than Ruby herself! She seems to just get on with it for the most part, and the novel doesn’t overly focus on the fact that Ruby is deaf- the story is what it is, and Ruby’s deafness is just another interesting element to the narrative.
Lupton creates a strong sense of atmosphere, and uses wonderfully descriptive language throughout. I really felt like I could be there, feeling the ice cold winds around me and losing the feeling in my toes! We learn that people traveling at this time of year in Alaska need to ensure they don’t sweat whilst they’re outside, as it’s so cold that the sweat will freeze on their skin and can cause hypothermia. Therefore running too fast is out of the question, even though you’d think you could run hell for leather to try and warm yourselves up…but no! This is just one of the many threats that Ruby and Yasmin face in the harsh Alaskan winter.
However, I never felt truly scared for Ruby and her mum- I don’t know why, as the landscape around them was very threatening, as I’ve mentioned. Its just that the storyline itself didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. It was perhaps a little slow for me. Because of this, I didn’t enjoy this novel anywhere near as much as her other novels. It just didn’t have the same element of mystery and threat, but it was still worth the read.
The Quality of Silence is released in the UK in hardcover on July 2nd.