Silence Diaries, The
A couple living a secret existence is tested by an accident that turns their lives upside down.
Suzie and Orbs are in their thirties and have been together for a couple of years. Orbs reluctantly makes a living in the City and Suzie is a respected financial journalist, but each has another life hidden from the outside world...
Their secret existence is threatened first when Suzie is offered a highly visible job, and then by an accident that turns their lives upside down. This is their struggle to survive as partners.
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I was first attracted to this book because of the title and it certainly fits the story well! Suzie and Orbs are not the traditional couple; he is a professional Fool with crazy costumes who performs in silence. She is a ventriloquist with a "pet" fox named Bruce who perform on television. But when a freak accident silences her for a time, both Suzie and Orb must come to terms with what they can't verbalize in their own relationship. Add to the mix Freddie, Orbs' brother who hears voices but loves Suzie's fox, and you have the makings of a tender story of compassion and insight. The writing is subtle but lovely; we see two people who are very different yet who come together and are there to support one another when the other needs them the most. It's certainly a non-traditional story but is one that will touch your heart and perhaps give you a fresh perspective on what it means to love and be loved! ~ Anne Foster (Educator), NetGalley
31 Oct 2019 | by Joseph Jones Review by Joseph Jones I should begin with an honest disclosure: I was duty-bound to read this short novel. The author had asked me to interview her as part of its launch, so it became a work task. Fortunately, it was no chore. I’m confident I would have read it anyway. Jennifer Kavanagh has been a perceptive and sensitive communicator on the Spirit-led life for some time. Her Heart of Oneness was, as Richard Rohr put it, ‘a wise and welcome reminder of the mutuality and interconnectedness at the heart of the universe’. But despite a career as a literary agent (‘What I loved was talent spotting’, she once told the Friend), this is only her second work of fiction. What, then, of her own talent? From the start it’s clear that we are being guided by someone who understands how stories work. Suzie and Aubrey – Orbs – are a couple in their early thirties trying to make a life in London. So we begin with a universal tale, one that looks hard at the everyday maintenance of a modern relationship in a modern world. The nine-to-five, the family pressures, the bills, jealousies and small mercies will be familiar to many readers. But each of the pair is distinctive, too: full and flawed and, well, novel – remarkable in a way that encourages investigation. Suzie is a financial journalist, but has a second life as a ventriloquist. Her puppet, Bruce, has the tone and manner of Geoffrey Boycott, a harsh but authentic voice that Suzie struggles to match in her own personal life. Orbs works for a bank – not quite the city career he lets his parents believe in – but feels a stronger calling to Foolery (think Shakespeare, or the noble role of the court jesters who spoke truth to power). While Suzie uses Bruce to – perhaps – conceal her own true voice, Orbs’ Fool practice is one of silence. He too has a difficulty with expressing himself when out of character. This set-up might imply some neat Quakerly subtext or consideration, but the author is never so didactic. Silence is a significant character in the book, but not a simple one. Orbs likes to walk labyrinths, one way of finding solace in the city, but the heart of the story is in its wary approach to things unsaid – the septic sore of a secret, or its partner, the lie. The author is herself a member of a community of fools. She knows well enough that what we understand as ‘silly’ is closely linked to the German selig – ‘blessed’. The journey from one to the other is through innocence, a naivety that is open rather than ignorant. ‘The great secret of the successful fool,’ said the author Isaac Asimov, ‘is that [s/]he is no fool at all.’ This isn’t a book with a narrow Quakerly moral, but it does reward a thoughtful reader. ~ Josepth Jones, The Friend
Orbs and Suzie are entertainers living in London. Orbs is a professional Fool but works at a bank. Suzie is a ventriloquist with her fox puppet Bruce and has a day job as a financial journalist. When Suzie has an accident, their lives are turned upside down. She loses her voice and confidence. Orbs does what he can to keep the house going and making sure Suzie is cared for. They have to work together to overcome their circumstances if they are going to be able to move forward. I actually read this book twice. The discussion of mental health needs to become more mainstream and the stigmatism of it removed. I applaud the author for addressing the issue. This book is written in the first person and in the present tense. It is a short book and a quick read. ~ Dawn Thomas (Reviewer), NetGalley
Suzie and Orbs have been together for a couple of years. Suzie is a financial journalist while Orbs reluctantly makes a living in the city. But they both have another life hidden from the outside world........This is a really quick read. I read it this afternoon. Often I've seen puppet shows, ventriloquists etc and most of the time their stories have an underlying message. This book is no different. Suzie and Orbs both keep their other lives secret from their families. They both hide who they really are behind the characters that they play. They can be whoever they want to be and no one will know. I liked everything about this story. Its the first book that I have read by the author but it won't be my last. ~ Louise Wilson (Reviewer), NetGalley
'The Silence Diaries' is a story about finding the courage to listen to your inner voice and the vulnerability that it will require. Silence is used as a way of removing all that is untrue and inauthentic leaving only what is. The exploration of this idea was presented through two main characters each with their own struggles to be who they are. Both characters in the story were living double lives-. Throughout the story we see these two characters finding themselves when the noise of all that they should be or want to do begins to take over their lives. .. Suze and Orbs both have to confront their most vulnerable selves when their puppet and fooling cease to have a presence in their lives. It was only then, that the real communication of the heart began to have the loudest voice. We all tend to give ourselves labels and fragment our lives into separate little pieces but bringing those seemingly different parts of ourselves together is where the truth of who we are is found. It is a stillness and peace that quiets the world around us. It will look and sound completely different than we could ever have imagined. I found a great quote that really captures the essence of this book: “Within each of us, there is a silence, a silence as vast as the universe. And when we experience that silence, we remember who we are…” ~ Tanja Flanjak, NetGalley
For me, this book is about understanding who you are, recognising that who you are is not the necessarily same as who you tell people you are, and how we can never really know the inner life of someone else. It is also about finding your purpose and accepting that purpose can change or be multiple things. I always enjoy Jennifer's writing (I've read her first novel, the Emancipation of B, and several of her non-fiction work). They're always the type of books that I'd like to write one day. ~ Dawn Powell, Good Reads
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn’t put it down! This gentle novel about relationships and the compromises within them is a lovely read. Unusual characters learning how to live with each other’s needs. I couldn’t put it down. Excellent choice for a book club. ~ Debbie Bristow, Amazon
On one level this is a novel about relationships: ... On another level it is a fable about truth and authenticity. Like most fables it paints a picture in absolute terms. There is no space for grey areas, for concealment or obfuscation. This is a gentle and tender novel, optimistic when so much around us is not. It is well written and the reader is drawn forward to see what happens next. Freddie’s voices are viewed kindly and with understanding. It would be good choice for a book group discussion. ______________________ ~ Dorothy Buglass, The Universalist
The quiet strength of The Silence Diaries is the way extraordinary people, a Fool, a political ventriloquist and a hearer of voices, are seen engaged in the everyday struggle for closeness and authenticity, a drama that resolves itself not in twists and denouements but in human virtues: patience, kindness and mutual understanding. ~ Philip Gross, winner of the T S Eliot Poetry Prize 2009
A sweet and gentle novel about how hard it can be to communicate honestly with others and be our real selves. In the frenzied, inauthentic world we have created, this is a book that reveals how the search for what is real and meaningful can sometimes be realised in unorthodox places: in the wisdom of fooling, the consolations of silence, not to mention the truculence of Bruce the ventriloquist's fox. ~ Paul Wilson, winner of the Portico prize, author of The Visiting Angel etc.