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Lies Told in Silence
In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
|Lies Told in Silence
By M.K. Tod
July 28, 2014
at Tod Publishing
Genre: historical fiction
This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
I discovered author M. K. Tod last year with her brilliant historical novel Unravelled. When she contacted me about her latest novel on the same events, viewed from the perspective of the other major character involved in the story, I didn’t hesitate a second, especially as we celebrate this year the somber anniversary of WWI.
When Lies Told in Silence opens, we are in May 1914 near Bois de Boulogne, Paris. Helene is 16 and her two brothers 19 and 13. Henri’s father, Henri, works at the War Ministry. Hearing about the preparations for a war, and assuming Paris will be the first target, he decides to send his old mother Mariele, his wife Lise and his children away to the house owned by their Aunt Camille in the little village of Beaufort in Northern France, where they should be safe.
Lise and Helen are very upset at the idea of living in such a tiny place, away from the education and culture offered by the capital. The beginning of the novel is at a slow pace, conveying so well the ambiance of heavy weather before a storm, and what a storm it will be…
Indeed, contrary to all expectations, Germany invaded Belgium in August, which eventually made Beaufort just 20 miles away from the front.
Most of the novel focuses on daily life in war time, with excellent details. It is time for a rough coming of age, a very quick maturing for Helene in these circumstances, as well as for her mother, certainly not used to a life of sacrifices, nor to taking care of her wounded son and to working in a soldiers hospital.
But they are in the company of the grand-mother Mariele. She is a great loving character, who blooms again as she rediscovers the joys of simple living. She is also a very comforting and stabilizing figure. A great relationship slowly develops between the three generations of women.
Then one day Canadian soldiers arrive in the area, to prepare a major preparation against the Germans. At a local dance, Helene meets one of them, Edward, who asks to see her again. It is the beginning of a deep love. Before he is sent further away, they promise to wait for each other until the end of the war, but she suddenly stops receiving news from him. Why? What happened to him? Did he die? Or weren’t his feelings genuine toward her? Will they ever meet again?
I’m certainly not going to answer all these questions for you. You need to go grab the book now and read for yourself. Every line is worth your time. Even though you may guess in chapter 36 what really happened, as I did, the whole book is for you to savor word by word.
Don’t forget to admire the cover, designed from one of the author’s family pictures!
There were a few edition problems in my copy, lots of words with weird and unnecessary hyphens; François spelt Francois (making it sounds frankwa instead of fransswa, tough for my French ear). There’s also mention of la fête de la musique in 1960. Actually this annual event started only in 1982, I remember the very first one!
But really these are tiny details that didn’t prevent me from devouring the book very quickly and enjoying it thoroughly. Lucky you if you have not yet read Unravelled, you have something else now to read related to the story. As for me, the end of this one makes me expect with excitement the next novel by M. K. Tod!
VERDICT: For lovers of historical novels, the best way of reading something special at the occasion of the anniversary of WWI is to grab the latest book by M. K. Tod. Full of true to life characters and details on this somber page of French history, it will make you relive these dreadful events as if you were there, in the company of a normal family in northern France.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
In May 1914, Helene Noisette’s father believes war is imminent. Convinced Germany will head straight for Paris, he sends his wife, daughter, mother and younger son to Beaufort, a small village in northern France. But when war erupts a few months later, the German army invades neutral Belgium with the intent of sweeping south towards Paris. And by the end of September, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front.
During the years that follow, with the rumbling of guns ever present in the distance, three generations of women come together to cope with deprivation, constant fear and the dreadful impacts of war. In 1917, Helene falls in love with a young Canadian soldier who was wounded in the battle of Vimy Ridge.
But war has a way of separating lovers and families, of twisting promises and dashing hopes, and of turning the naïve and innocent into the jaded and war-weary. As the months pass, Helene is forced to reconcile dreams for the future with harsh reality.
Lies Told in Silence examines love and loss, duty and sacrifice, and the unexpected consequences of lies. [provided by the author]
PRAISE FOR LIES TOLD IN SILENCE
“M.K. Tod captures [the] sorrowful sense of loss of men and women caught up in a tide beyond their control, one that would transform their lives beyond recognition. She has created characters that readers will care about and effectively dramatized how soldiers suffered, physically and psychologically, in the so-called ‘Great War’.”
– Sharon Kay Penman author of A King’s Ransom.
“Rich with distinctive details, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE, is a fully dimensional tale, a crisp rendering of war on all fronts. An intricate, well-researched study of life forever changed by WWI yet still sweet with the tender innocence of the age. With sterling prose, Tod captures the period and the nuanced tension of her story perfectly.”
– Donna Russo Morin author of The King’s Agent.
“An exquisite tale of true love and living with the choices we make set amidst the tumultuousness of World War I. Compelling and poignant, I was deeply engrossed from the first page to the last, unable to pull myself away from Helene’s story. M.K. Tod is a powerful new voice in the historical fiction genre and I eagerly await her next release.”
– AMY BRUNO Historical fiction blogger at Passages to the Past.
“In her accomplished second novel, M.K. Tod depicts the ruinous impact of war on human lives across the generations—young people, their parents, women, and soldiers. A multi-layered depiction of a French family adversely affected by World War I … an absorbing and rewarding historical read, well-timed for the centenary.”
MARGARET EVANS PORTER Author of The Proposal.
“Readers of M.K. Tod’s multi-generational WWI story will particularly enjoy seeing the war through the eyes of both men and women, and from the corridors of power to the front lines and small villages of northern France. LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is a compelling read right up to its taut page-turning ending.”
– RICHARD LEE Founder of the Historical Novel Society.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
M.K. Tod writes historical fiction featuring WWI and WWII.
Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED, was selected as Indie Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society.
In addition to her writing, Mary maintains the blog www.awriterofhistory.com where she talks about reading and writing historical fiction.
She has also conducted two well-regarded historical fiction reader surveys and in her spare time reviews books for the Historical Novel Society.
M.K. Tod is delighted to hear from readers at mktod at bell dot net.
Visit her blog
Follow her on Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
Any other historical novel set during WWI
you would recommend?
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Dear Emma – what a wonderful review. I am so very pleased you enjoyed Lies Told in Silence. Thank you again for your encouragement and for hosting this blog tour! (Thanks also for pointing out my error with Fete de la Musique – I must be more diligent about checking my facts!
my pleasure. Le fête de la musique sounds like such a traditional fixture, that it’s easy to forget it’s actually fairly recent, I’m adding ‘fairly’ to pretend I’m not that old… lol
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Sounds like a good one! All Quiet on the Western Front is my favorite WWI novel and I also like A Farewell to Arms.
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yes, it is really excellent. belive it or not, I have not got myself to reading All Quiet on the Western Front yet…
I read “Unravelled”and really enjoyed it. This one promises to be just as good, if not better.
I totally agree, you definitely need to read it once you’ve read Unravelled
That sounds like an interesting book on WW1 – I have not found many and I’ll put it on my list. I just finished “The Last of the Dough Boys – The Forgotten Generation and their Forgotten War” by Richard Rubin and I enjoyed it.
and I highly recommend Unravelled by the same author, on the main characters of this book, same story from another perspective. Mais en français vous avez Au revoir là-haut!. Est-ce que vous l’avez lu? J’ai trouvé que l’écriture était sublime. Tough but so good. Je me permets de signaler ma recension: https://wordsandpeace.com/2014/08/08/book-review-au-revoir-la-haut-i-love-france-106/. Je viens de découvrir votre excellent blog et vous ai ajoutée aussitôt à ma liste de bloglovin. Si un jour vous vous décidez à recenser des livres, je vous accueillerez volontiers dans notre équipe de France Book Tours (http://francebooktours.com).
So glad you are putting it on your list, Vagabonde! As Emma notes in her reply, she did a wonderful review for Au devoir la-haut – it appeared in a Historical Novel Society publication recently. Si vows lisez francais …
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I’ve encountered two excellent novels on WWI period through France Book Tours (this one and A Star for Mrs. Blake). Thank you! That has led me to nonfiction releases this year by historians Margaret MacMillan and Max Hastings for centennial, and to Barbara Tuchman’s classic, The Guns of August. The narratives of history and the narrative lenses of novelists begin to merge and inform each other, as we look back and try to understand those desperate times.
so glad you had enjoyed these wonderful novels in this anniversary year. Thanks for the nonfiction, titles, I will look into them. Still need to read Tuchman’s!!
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