Tuesday, January 27, 2015

book review: The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

The backstory: The Silent Sister is one of my book club's picks for January (we meet every other month and read two books.) The other pick is The Art Forger.

The basics: Riley MacPherson has a complicated relationship with her family. When her father dies, she's left to pack up his house. Her veteran brother, who still lives in the small town of New Bern, refuses to help. And her older sister committed suicide when Riley was very young. While going through her father's things, Riley begins doubting some of her family history and sets out to separate fact from fiction.

My thoughts: It was challenging to write the description of this novel without spoiling too much. It's challenging to talk about this book much at all without spoiling too much, so this review will remain more vague than I would perhaps like (and I am so looking forward to discussing this one with my book club!) The Silent Sister is a book I would almost classify as a mystery or a thriller because there are so many elements of suspense. But it reads more like women's fiction (a term I typically loathe, but it is descriptive) with moments of suspense. The more I thought about it, however, the more I became convinced it is simultaneously all of those things and thus none of them. Throughout this novel, it changes. The tone shifts from mysterious to nostalgic to haunting to reflective.

I enjoyed the suspenseful elements most. The mystery itself isn't terribly mysterious, as most of the revelations were foreshadowed too much for my taste. (Without so much foreshadowing, I would be inclined to think of this novel as more of a mystery.) What I found so enjoyable as I read was Riley's journey. Although I found I correctly predicted most of her discoveries before she did (because I had more information than she did, not because she is unintelligent or a frustrating character), I most enjoyed seeing how Riley would uncover each truth. She had so little to go on, and her frustration at her family for keeping so many secrets is compelling. So, too, is her questioning who she can trust. As a mystery reader, I'm tempted to not trust anyone, yet Chamberlain kept reminding me I wasn't reading a mystery, and that Riley's trust was steeped in reality.

The verdict: The Silent Sister is an entertaining, absorbing read. I found too many of the events over-foreshadowed, and thus some of the thrills fell flat for me. Still, I devoured this book in a single day, and Chamberlain had some twists I didn't see coming. If you're looking for a book to lose yourself in for a day, The Silent Sister is a good one.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 353 pages
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Source: library

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Silent Sister from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Diane Chamerlain's website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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1 comment:

  1. I've had this book on my list for quite a while. Good to hear your experience. I read another of Diane Chamberlain's books a couple of years ago, but it did not have mystery elements. I can understand what you mean about the foreshadowing. I think when you read a lot of mysteries, you get used to reading with skepticism for events as presented. At least I do. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that not all books are trying to trick you. LOL


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