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 Historical Fiction Virtual Tours 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.
This is how the publisher summarises Lies Told In Silence: “In 1914 Paris half the city expects war while the other half scoffs at the possibility. With knowledge gained from his role at the War Department, Henri Noisette fears that Germany may soon attack Paris. He therefore sends his wife, mother and two younger children to Beaufort, a small village in northern France. By late 1914, instead of a safe haven, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front. As war unfolds, Henri’s daughter, Helene, grows up quickly and in 1917 falls in love with Edward Jamieson, a young Canadian soldier.
The novel examines love and loss, duty and sacrifice and the unexpected consequence of lies.”
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.
About M.K. Tod: Mary has enjoyed a passion for historical novels that began in her early teenage years immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer. During her twenties, armed with Mathematics and Computer Science degrees, she embarked on a career in technology and consulting continuing to read historical fiction in the tiny snippets of time available to working women with children to raise.
In 2004, she moved to Hong Kong with her husband and no job. To keep busy Mary decided to research her grandfather’s part in the Great War. What began as an effort to understand her grandparents’ lives blossomed into a full time occupation as a writer. Mary has an active blog – www.awriterofhistory.com – which discusses all aspects of historical fiction and includes author and reader interviews. Additionally, she is a book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Mary lives in Toronto where she is happily married with two adult children.