I’m excited to be on the blog tour for The Silence Project by Carole Hailey. This is a step away from my usual reads of romcoms, paranormal thrillers, family dramas and anything witchy but the striking cover, tagline and then blurb drew me in.
It promised to be impactful, and thought provoking. Scroll down to see if it delivered.
Book Review: The Silence Project by Carole Hailey
Title: The Silence Project
Author: Carole Hailey
Genre: Dystopian, fiction
Release Date: 9th February 2023
On Emilia Morris’s thirteenth birthday, her mother Rachel moves into a tent at the bottom of their garden. From that day on, she never says another word. Inspired by her vow of silence, other women join her and together they build the Community. Eight years later, Rachel and thousands of her followers around the world burn themselves to death.
In the aftermath of what comes to be known as the Event, the Community’s global influence quickly grows. As a result, the whole world has an opinion about Rachel – whether they see her as a callous monster or a heroic martyr – but Emilia has never voiced hers publicly. Until now.
When she publishes her own account of her mother’s life in a memoir called The Silence Project, Emilia also decides to reveal just how sinister the Community has become. In the process, she steps out of Rachel’s shadow once and for all, so that her own voice may finally be heard.
It’s now over a week since I finished reading The Silence Project, yet my mind still keeps drifting back to it, unnerving me, especially while I read or listen to the news about the changes in protest laws and freedom of speech. The power of this book is how relatable it is making it easy to imagine something like this happening. This then leads to the uneasy realisation of how your own life would be affected if it did.
Told in Emelia’s voice with a smattering of related emails, articles and journal entries, it has two distinct parts: pre-event and post. I found myself more hooked in the run up to the event which highlighted the changing relationship between mother and daughter when Rachel made her decision and the impact this had on the family. Being a mum, I can’t imagine essentially abandoning my daughter for a cause, however important. Some scenes gave an emotional punch. The event itself was horrific and the consequences far reaching.
The post-event chapters were more dystopian and showed how a simple idea and phrase made with goodness in mind can snowball into something colossal and horrifying. The backdrop of hatred, extremism, climate change and political upheaval were too close to comfort at times but it made it more compelling. The ending tapped into my insecurities and added to my sleepless nights.
Powerful, and disturbing, this clever novel is ideal for book clubs, as there are many topical and moral issues to debate and consider. It delivered it’s promise and is perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Carole Hailey completed the six-month Guardian/UEA novel writing course taught by Bernardine Evaristo, who imbued Carole with such a love for writing fiction that she abandoned her career in law to undertake an MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, followed by a PhD in Creative Writing at Swansea University.
Carole was a London Library Emerging Writer 2020/21. The Silence Project is her first published novel and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award 2020 and highly commended by the judges. She lives in Wales with her husband and two rescue dogs.
Thank you Random Things Tours for the blog invite and advanced copy of this book to so I could give an honest and unbiased review.