Friday, 1 March 2013
Review: The Quietness by Alison Rattle
When fifteen-year-old Queenie escapes from the squalid slums of nineteenth-century London, she has no idea about the dangers of the dark world she is about to become embroiled in. Initially thrilled at being taken on as a maid for the seemingly respectable Waters sisters, Queenie comes to realise that something is very wrong with the dozens of strangely silent babies being 'adopted' into the household.
Meanwhile, lonely and unloved sixteen-year-old Ellen is delighted when her handsome and charming young cousin Jacob is sent to live with her family. She thinks she has finally found a man to fall in love with and rely on, but when Jacob cruelly betrays her she finds herself once again at the mercy of her cold-hearted father. Soon the girls' lives become irrevocably entwined in this tension-filled drama. THE QUIETNESS is a novel of friendship and trust in the darkest of settings
I loved the Quietness which I thought was a brilliantly engaging read as kept me fascinated from the first page until the last and gave real insight into the underbelly of Victorian society. If you enjoyed Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper or Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series you love this book.
The Quietness follows the story of two teenage girls. Ellen is from a rich family and lives a life of luxury on one side of London bridge and Queenie comes from a poor family and faces poverty on a daily basis living on the other side of London bridge. Neither girl is happy with their very different lives and as the book unfolds it becomes clear that they actually have more in common than it would first appear.
What I loved most about this book is that you get a real sense of period and what life was like for the people who lived in the time period the book is set in. I like how the story gives you that without becoming dry or overburdening you with boring details which can really slow a story down and therefore make it dull like some historical fiction can. I love that this book gives you the history in an engaging and exciting way that keeps you entertained page after page. This is exactly the way I think historical fiction for teens should be written.
I loved both main characters equally and enjoyed following their stories both separately both also once they merge when the two meet. It was interesting to have both perspectives on life in Victorian London and really couldn't put the book down as I found myself needing to know more and find out what happened next to the girls.
I won't tell you too much about the issue the book finally centres around for fear of spoiling it but i will say I found it absolutely fascinating and a part of history that I don't think a lot of people are as aware of as they could be. The ending was both unexpected and heart wrenching. While I don't think it could have been done better it did leave me sat in a stunned silence for a good while after I'd read it.
A fantastic read which kept me up reading long after my bedtime which spoke to the history geek in me. A perfect example of historical fiction for teens done well. I'll be recommending this book for a long time to come.