Sunday, 18 December 2016

Review: House of Silence by Sarah Barthel

Oak Park, Illinois, 1875. Isabelle Larkin s future like that of every young woman hinges upon her choice of husband. She delights her mother by becoming engaged to Gregory Gallagher, who is charismatic, politically ambitious, and publicly devoted. But Isabelle s visions of a happy, profitable match come to a halt when she witnesses her fiance commit a horrific crime and no one believes her.
Gregory denies all, and Isabelle s mother insists she marry as planned rather than drag them into scandal. Fearing for her life, Isabelle can think of only one escape: she feigns a mental breakdown that renders her mute, and is brought to Bellevue sanitarium. There she finds a friend in fellow patient Mary Todd Lincoln, committed after her husband s assassination.
In this unlikely refuge, the women become allies, even as Isabelle maintains a veneer of madness for her own protection. But sooner or later, she must reclaim her voice. And if she uses it to expose the truth, Isabelle risks far more than she could ever imagine. 

Paperback, 300 pages
Expected publication: December 27th 2016 by Kensington Publishing Corporation 
Genre: Historical Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts: 

** I received an advanced readers copy from Kensington via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book took place back in 1875 when prestige, reputation and marrying well were of the utmost importance for young women. It was not unheard of for marriages to be arranged according to societal ranking and convenience. Love was not always the number one reason for a marriage to happen.

Gregory and Isabelle formed a match based on ambitions and connections with a bit of fondness but not love. Days after their engagement party where they announced to anyone and everyone of importance what their intentions were, Isabelle witnessed Gregory commit a horrible and  unthinkable crime. In her effort to end their relationship and see justice served, she confessed everything she saw to her mother. When she did not believe her and insisted the union happen as planned before their reputations were ruined, Isabelle knew that nobody was going to believe her. In order to escape the impending nuptials and for her own safety she decided to play the part that her mother and doctor were convinced of and ended up getting places in Bellevue Sanitarium.

The best way for me to describe this book is that it was very simplistic in nature. It was not rich in detail and history like what I have come to expect in historical fiction. It was lighter and fluffier for a lack of better words. I would say it was a little on the romantic side. This might make the book more appealing to readers who aren't normally fans of historical fiction. I myself am a huge fan of historical fiction so I found it left me craving a little bit more than it gave me. However, it was still entertaining although somewhat predictable and I was able to finish it quickly. It provided me with a small taste of history that I would love to explore more thoroughly.

About the Author
Sarah Barthel found her passion for writing historical fiction from her interest in classic films and old-time musicals. She often says she was born out of time, but appreciates modern toothpaste and Chocolate!
Her hometown, just outside Chicago, is full of old fashioned charm and serves as inspiration for much of her work. Before writing House of Silence, she drove past Bellevue Sanitarium often and wondered what life was like there for women like Mary Lincoln. After many years of wondering, Isabelle's story was born.
Sarah Barthel lives with her two beautiful daughters and loving husband.

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