The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton – Review

Published by Little, Brown

Publication date – 2 July 2015

Source – review copy


“On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska.

Within hours they are driving alone across a frozen wilderness

Where nothing grows

Where no one lives

Where tears freeze

And night will last for another fifty-four days.

They are looking for Ruby’s father.

Travelling deeper into a silent land.

They still cannot find him.

And someone is watching them in the dark.”

4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers and this is my honest opinion of the book.

Yasmin and her daughter Ruby have made the long journey from London to Alaska. On a whim Yasmin has travelled to confront her husband, Matt. He has ostensibly travelled to Alaska to film a wildlife documentary, a reason Yasmin has come to doubt. After their last telephone conversation ended in a row, she sets off to find him. However when she lands she is told that he has died, a victim in a horrible accident that took the lives of an entire village. Fuelled by something other than shock and grief, Yasmin refuses to believe that Matt is dead. She sets off with Ruby into the permanent night to seek Matt at the top of the world.

For me the main story in this book was that of the internal journey each main character took. Yasmin, determined to make life as easy as possible for her daughter had always been keen on Ruby to ‘use her words’. As the journey progressed she comes to realise Ruby is using her words. Her voice comes from her hands. It sets her free and allows her to be who she wants to be. For Ruby the journey opens her up to the world outside, its cruelty as well as its beauty.

There is some beautiful prose in this book. I easily found myself transported to Alaska. The desperate monotony of a landscape where colour has almost vanished. Where snow and ice is all that can be seen and where the danger is the nothingness. “Worse than the dangers of the road and the cold and the isolation was the absence of colours; just the white snow in his headlights and then the dark. In the monochromatic landscape he felt a craving for colours like a need for warmth.” The lack of colour and the perpetual night that conversely highlight dangers, both from nature and man-made.

The language used in Ruby’s sections of the book is also effective. She has the innocence of a child with the awareness of someone on the cusp of adulthood. The incongruity of things being ‘super-coolio’ and the life-threatening situation of her journey and the things she sees are reflected in her monologues.

There is a sense of tension but the thriller aspect of the story almost takes a back seat to the personal journeys taken. There is a sense of danger. Who is following them and do they mean harm? It is also a love story. Yasmin is driven by her love of Matt to race across the tundra to find him. But she is also driven by her love of Ruby, desperate to ensure she does not loose her father and suffer through the early loss of a parent as she did.

This is the first of Rosamund Lupton’s novels I have read. I’ll be seeking out her others to read in the future.

My thanks to Susan de Soissons at Little, Brown for the review copy.


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