EXCERPT: She knew the instant she entered her father’s room that he was not at peace. He was clearly worse than when she’d seen him that afternoon. His breathing was raspier, his skin greyer, and he was agitated. As he reached for her, his long arms trembling in the air, he wore a look of desperation on his once handsome face.
She took his hand and sat on the edge of the bed.
“I’m here, Dad.” She guessed he had not wanted to die without her at his side and wished she’d ignored those red lights to get to the hospital sooner.
He held both her hands in his weak grasp, but even with her there the desperate look did not leave his eyes. He tried to speak, the words coming out between his gasps for air. “Should…have…told…”he said.
She leaned close to hear him. From that angle she could see the stars of Aries through the hospital window. “Don’t try to speak, Dad.” She smoothed a tuft of white hair away from his temple.
“A woman,” he said. “You need…” Her father’s face, gaunt and grey, tightened with frustration as he struggled to get the words out.
“I need to what Dad?” she asked gently.
“Look…” His lips trembled from the strain of speaking. “Look after her,” he said.
Laura drew away to study his face. Could he be delusional? “Okay,” she said. “I will. Please don’t try to talk any more.”
He let go of her hand to reach toward the night table, his arm jerking with the motion. Laura saw the scrap of paper he was aiming for and picked it up herself. Her father had written a name on the paper in a nearly illegible scrawl that threatened to break her heart.
“Sarah Tolley,” Laura read. “Who is that?”
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Laura Brandon’s promise to her dying father was simple: to visit an elderly woman she’d never heard of before. A woman who remembers nothing—except the distant past. Visiting Sarah Tolley seemed a small enough sacrifice to make.
But Laura’s promise results in another death. Her husband’s. And after their five-year-old daughter, Emma, witnesses her father’s suicide, Emma refuses to talk about it…to talk at all.
Frantic and guilt ridden, Laura contacts the only person who may be able to help. A man she’s met only once—six years before. A man who doesn’t know he’s Emma’s real father.
Guided only by a child’s silence and an old woman’s fading memories, the two unravel a tale of love and despair, of bravery and unspeakable evil. A tale that’s shrouded in silence…and that unbelievably links them all.
MY THOUGHTS: I have very mixed feelings about this book. I am immediately drawn to anything relating to mental disease, or that is set in a psychiatric facility, which this is, partly. Not that I was aware of this when I chose to read Breaking the Silence.
On one hand we have a moving tale of a daughter carrying out her father’s dying wish that she look after and visit an elderly lady with dementia. On the other hand we have a story set in St Margaret’s psychiatric hospital; a story of medical experimentation, bullying and government cover ups.
The story is told from two timelines, in the present with Laura, and in Sarah’s past. This works well. As always with Diane Chamberlain’s writing, I ran the full gamut of emotions. I was so angry at Ray for committing suicide when he was home alone with his small daughter. I cried at Emma’s pain and confusion, and Sarah’s. But for some reason, I found it really hard to connect with Laura – at times she was like a bull in a china shop! And Dylan, Emma’s biological father? Well, he was just too good to be true.
I had issues with the ‘bad guys’ in the story. I have no trouble in believing that the experimentation happened, or that the doctors are sometimes madder than the patients. That I know for a fact. But I don’t believe that they would have been as lenient on Sarah’s family as they were, and that slightly spoiled the read for me. I guess I expected something a little harder hitting from this author.
THE AUTHOR: Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 26 novels published in more than twenty languages. Her most recent novel is The Dream Daughter. Some of her most popular books include Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane’s background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.
Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.
Diane received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel.
Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She’s currently at work on her next novel.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook version of Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain, narrated by Justine Eyre, published by Tantor Audio via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/988354659