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Thursday, 11 June 2020

‘A Time for Silence’ by Thorne Moore

Published by Honno Modern Fiction,
18 October 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-906784-45-4

Sarah is engaged to be married to Marcus. Having seen him off on a business trip to New York, She treats herself to a weekend away and visits her mother in Ireland. On the return journey, tired from driving, she stops for a break and passing an Estate Agents window she glances in, aware that what she should be doing is finding a house for herself and Marcus.  The wedding is just three months away.  But there she catches sight of the name Cwmderwen and is taken back in time to the farmhouse that her grandparents lived in.  Fascinated she decides to take a look, after all is up for sale,

The farmhouse is totally derelict.   It would appear that no one had lived there since her grandparents left.  Once home Sarah does some digging and eventually locates the right John F Owen, her grandfather, and discovers he was killed by person or persons unknown.

Shocked, Sarah quizzes her mother’s sister, but she totally stonewalls Sarah, and so Sarah decides to investigate herself.  Her journey to the truth takes her down many blind alleys, mainly because talking to people in the local area who could have known her grandparents seems to start off well but when she admits that she is asking about her grandparents they clam up.  Not that she realises this at the time, just that she seems to keep hitting blank walls.

Interspersed with Sarah’s first person narrative, as she searches for what happened to her grandfather, we are taken back to 1933 and the wedding of Gwen and John F Owen. Narrated by Gwen in alternate chapters we learn the story from Gwen’s point of view of her life with John Owen in a remote farm in Pembrokeshire, and the struggle and hardship endured, which eventually leads to tragedy.

As more and more of Sarah’s time is devoted to her search into the past, Marcus’s mother Caroline, continually badgers her about the wedding plans, Bridesmaids dresses, flowers, and so on. One can feel Sarah’s detachment. On Marcus’s return Sarah’s conversation centres more on her family’s past then on her future with Marcus.  

Sarah is a complex character. Originally pursuing a singing career, she had given up that dream following the death of a close friend. Now she is obsessed in discovering what is behind the silence that seems to exist regarding the death of her Grandfather Owen.  But in uncovering the truth she may learn things that are better left alone. Maybe silence is golden.

I found this a fascinating book. As the story progressed, I thought I could see where it was going but there was more than one secret.  Secrets I had not counted on.  This cleverly, beautifully written book evokes the past brilliantly and is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Thorne Moore studied history at Aberystwyth, and nine years later, after a spell working in a library, she returned to Wales, to beautiful and inspiring Pembrokeshire, to run a restaurant with her sister. Although Thorne did get a law degree, through the Open University, she had always intended, and when I'm not writing, When not writing she I makes miniature furniture, through her craft business, Pear Tree Miniatures, and occasionally she teaches family history.