Saturday, May 22, 2010
The Sea and the Silence by Peter Cunningham
The second half of the book sweeps the reader into Iz's life before she married Ronnie. It is here that we really come to know and understand her. Family pressures to save their familial lands forces Iz to betroth herself to a man she does not love. All the while, her heart belongs to Frank, a man deeply involved in political subterfuge. But meddling family and friends thwart all their attempts to be together.
What makes this novel unique is the unusual way the story unfolds. The author weaves this complex story in reverse order. We learn about Iz's later life first and early life later. Like gently peeling an onion, bit by bit, the story is revealed. Although a bit perplexing at first, I found this style of storytelling helped to build suspense as the story progressed. It wasn't until the second half of the book that this tale truly gains momentum.
It took a while to initially fall into the story because the writer used dashes instead of quotation marks for dialogue and often didn't break the dialogue with new paragraphs when different characters spoke. It made for a rough start and kept me from engaging with the story in its early stages, but once I became accustomed to it, I did settle into the story.
Readers who persevere into the second half of the story will find themselves rewarded with the revelation of many secrets and a deeper understanding of Iz and the turmoil in her life. Along the way, the reader will discover beautiful descriptions of Ireland, an understanding of the country's struggles, along with some lovely prose. The ending leaves the reader haunted because of its poignancy. A unique novel about a beautiful country that has faced many hardships throughout history.