BOOK CLUB: The Silence of Water

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The Silence of Water is the debut novel of Australian author Sharron Booth, a historical fiction of tragedy, hope and acceptance. 

1906, Agnes Johnson moves her family from Adelaide to Fremantle so she can take care of her estranged father Edwin Salt, although she has not seen her father for quite some time she feels it is her duty as a daughter to take care of him in the time he has left. 

Young Frances (Fan) is not happy about moving.  She doesn’t know her grandfather, all that is familiar, comfortable, and beloved is being left behind filled with happy memories. She is displeased with her mother and makes a point of showing her. 

England 1840’s, Edwin Salt falls in love and marries his first love Mary Ann, he tries to become rich quick as an official responsible for collecting excise duty, but when a transgression occurs he is classed as a convict and transported to Australia in 1861.  He remarries Cath, they have two children Agnes and Walter; their childhood is not a happy one and once an adult Agnes distances herself from her ill-tempered father.

When Fran meets her grandfather, she finds him bewildering and decides to form a pact with him, what better way than to annoy her mother.  She listens to stories about his life in England and how he came to Australia as a convict. There is a dark secret behind his stories that she is eager to unravel. 

The characters are well-fleshed-out, and they provide a sense of authenticity to the narrative.  Edwin is a complicated man, there is conflict to his character, one could dislike him for his past actions, but it makes him intriguing.  Agnes is a wonderfully complex yet likable character who you just want the best for especially with mending family ties. Fan is an absolute delight, the curiosity of a young child wanting to know her grandfather’s secrets, she has a spirit of daring adventure.

The story captures simple yet profound moments and is a nostalgic depiction of its characters’ hopes and memories. It takes the audience on a moving journey through many light-hearted and difficult moments.  The dialogue and descriptive narrative are well constructed.  Sharron Booth did her due diligence, researched, and then used that knowledge to write a compelling story that I connected with immediately.  

Filled with hardships, family, resentment, and love, The Silence of Water was so much more than that. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves to read historical fiction and family drama.

Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Fremantle Press for the opportunity to read and review. 

ISBN: 9781760991340

Copy courtesy of publisher: Fremantle Press

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Silence of Water by Sharron BoothYou can read their comments below, or add your own review.

5 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Silence of Water

  1. The Silence of Water by Sharron Booth, published by @FreemantlePress is a story of despair and desperation. It follows the lives of three generations of the Salt family, through their many tragedies and dramas and slowly reveals a shocking family secret…

    The book itself is well written and researched and is apparently based on historical facts. The depiction of the early days of Freemantle Western Australia is particularly vividly portrayed. However I found the structure and storyline quite confusing and frustrating as it jumped forward and back between time periods and characters.

    It is nevertheless an interesting novel
    which really brings home the hardships, the violence and the tragic beginnings faced by so many in Australia’s early colonial years.

  2. This novel is about 3 generations and some are historical truth and some parts fiction. The author has brilliantly combined the two.

    My feelings on starting the book was a little confusing due to the different years back and forth but also different years with different characters and places but once you get to follow the storylines and get to know the characters, it kind of falls into place so keep reading.

    I found it useful that on each chapter, one year is the character for example – Fan/Fremantle, November 1906.

    It’s not hard to like some of the characters in the book, mine being Fan and Agnes. Agnes moves all the family from Adelaide to Western Australia to look after her dad Edwin. Fan has never met or even heard anything re her grandfather so is intrigued to get to know him.

    Edwin was a convict transported to Australia in 1861 and was given a fresh start to life.
    There are secrets amongst the pages and twists and turns and during reading, I would never have guessed the outcome of where anything was leading.

    Fan her real name being Frances is an adorable character who you can’t help liking and I did find myself giggling at a lot of her antics with her grandfather and family. She becomes fascinated with her grandfather’s stories.

    There are times whilst reading Fan that I was on the edge of my seat thinking she would get caught at things she did.

    There was a lot of heartache back in those days of babies losing their lives or even children which saddened me to read.

    The cover is very haunting but beautiful at the same time.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Fremantle Press for allowing me to read this historical novel. I am not normally into historical reads but quite enjoyed this book.

    Thank you to the author Sharron Booth who I see took a few years to actually take the time to do research on some of the characters and places in this her debut book.

  3. The Silence of Water by Sharron Booth starts with the family of Fan living in Adelaide but then moving Fremantle to take care of her Mother’s father (a Grandfather she didn’t know existed).
    Edwin to Fan is an unknown character who she sets out to find out more about him.
    This story covers 3 generations and to me initially it was a little hard to follow as the chapters captured different years of Fan, Agnes (her mother) and Edwin (her Grandfather).
    A lot of secrets are yet to be divulged but as the story progresses we get to read about the life of Edwin, why Agnes is as she is with her father and why Fan does her research.
    A great, unique storyline!

  4. The Silence of Water was very easy to immerse yourself in (no pun intended), but early on I found myself getting lost with all the back and forth of the characters and their storylines – who was person B, how did they relate to person A? etc I had to flip back and forth and hope I was understanding it right. (Perhaps a family tree at the front of the book like what Fan drew herself would have been helpful without damaging the story??)
    So much history, so many twists and turns and so many secrets all in these pages, and then to find in the authors notes that so much was based on real facts and people made the story all the more intriguing!!
    It is written in a way that just when you feel compassion for Edwin, more of his story is revealed and you suddenly feel less, then build up with spunky little Fan, only to be disappointed by her snooping or reactions, etc. I was still wanting more once it ended, still wondering how their lives end up, will their ever be a reconciliation, will Edwin die alone in his room, will we find out more about Walter? All these thoughts make me realize that I have become so involved in this tale, and it was a wonderful story.
    Thank you for a great read Sharron Booth

  5. Thank-you Beauty & Lace for giving me the chance to read & review ‘The Silence of the Water’ by Sharron Booth.
    The Salt family has a complicated history, beginning with Edwin in the 1840’s, affecting his daughter Agnes and her created family. He forms an unlikely friendship with his grand-daughter Fan who has endless curiosity and energy in ferreting out the family secrets.
    This is an historical drama based on a family doing it tough at the turn of the century and how secrets always have a way of being found out by the curious, with sometimes acceptance and love the result. I enjoyed reading this book, Fan is a great character. Thank-you ‘Beauty & Lace Bookclub’ for the opportunity to read ‘‘The Silence of the Water’ by Sharron Booth.

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