Silent Tears by Paul Henke (Fiction)

posted 22 Mar 2010, 05:29 by DP Durlston-Powell   [ updated 22 Mar 2010, 06:27 ]
Backcover blurb:


From the depths of depression and the rise of fascism to the abdication of Edward VII and the Spanish Civil War, Henke's meticulous research brings the period and vibrant characters to life. David, powerful and dynamic, at the centre of political intrigue, his love for the family is put to the ultimate test... Meg, stalwart and determined, guides the family with humour and devotion... and Susan, beautiful and tempestuous, fighting for justice. No sacrifice is too great for those she loves.

Books from the same author:
A Million Tears by Paul Henke (Fiction)
The Tears of War and Peace by Paul Henke (Fiction)

My thoughts:

A return to form within the very strong story of the Griffiths saga. Only a whisker short of being as good as the classic first instalment, A Million Tears, this is still a very, very good book. Having sidestepped the need to cover the close action of the First World War in the second novel, Henke shows his skill in covering the Spanish Civil War and finding that tricky balance between delivering exciting action and avoiding over-glorification of war. He has hit what I believe to be the absolute 'sweet spot' as Susan's actions are always daring and gripping, but not heroic and the dreadful results of war are clearly seen and shared - as a well read fan of history, military history and historical fiction, I can attest that do not recall a novel where the balance has been so well met and maintained.  Against the continued strong background of European and domestic politics, business intrigues and the family success, Henke manages to examine the tempestuous nature of youthful passion for a cause and compare it directly against the view of experienced eyes that can appear more wise, but less willing to make a difference. A challenging subject area to make the reader think about, but one that is well demonstrated by the travails of the different generations of the Boucher families. It was also good to see a chink of fallibility in the Griffiths' armour of previous omniscience as their ability to always identify the most profitable and successful path was becoming less credible after two books - it was simply becoming increasingly improbable that everything could turn to gold and the wireless factory nicely addressed that issue. The production values remain and as with the rest of the series so far they are notably above the average making this a book that is a delight to hold. There also appears to be more love poured into the text again; reading this, you get the feeling that Henke is proud of this work - and so he should be as it is excellent. The narrative is as engrossing as the first novel and with less to make the reader aware of the writing than in the second book; indeed, I only saw what appeared to be one 'mistake' that made me think of the writing and that was when a minor cousin (Huw) is killed in a mine accident, but appears to be a pall bearer at his uncle's funeral a short while later. It has no material impact on the story, but was enough to stop me reading and prompt me to check back and see if I had read things correctly. But more importantly than one minor criticism, Henke has again increased the emotional impact of his writing to approach the levels that kicked off this saga - the events from the departure from Gibraltar onwards were particularly emotively written. Clearly, the departure of the fleet from a port is an event that Henke would be very familiar with and one that he portrays with a layer of sadness that fits with the loss of one of the main characters. The subsequent family loss is also delicately and emotionally captured and yet the book ends positively even with the readers' knowledge that the Second World War is about to start. Yet again, Henke would have made it in my top 5 (see the left of this page) if I hadn't decided to only allow one entrant per series and I feel that it is only availability and exposure that have prevented this book from gracing every reader's shelf in the country, so I once again provide a link directly to the author's website as it seems to be the only place to reliably obtain this book - www.henke.co.uk. Get it, read it and delight in it.

Verdict:

Another classic that continues this saga of finely melded fact and fiction. A must-buy piece of literary brilliance that deserves a hardback release with wider availability and recognition.
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