Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Book: The Silence (August 2020)

By Susan Allott

August 11, 2020

It is 1997, and in a basement flat in London, Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father phoning from Sydney.

30 years ago, in summer 1967, the Green’s next-door neighbor Mandy disappeared.  Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her: Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

The return to Sydney will plunge Isla deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side.  Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England – a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life.  Next door, Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve – a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job – is desperate to become a father.

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns.  Could her father be capable of doing something terrible?  How much does her mother know?  What will happen to their family if Isla’s worst fears are realized?  And is there another secret in this community, once which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

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