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A History of Silence [Paperback]

Lloyd Jones
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 10.08 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Paperback, 15 April 2014 10.08  

Book Description

15 April 2014

A History of Silence is a touching memoir about a country and a landscape. It's about the devastation in Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake and the faultlines that this event opened up in Lloyd Jones' understanding of his own family. It's about how easily we erase from our history, the stories that we find inconvenient.

In his typically lyrical and engaging prose, Jones embarks on a journey of discovery. On this journey he finds out more about his country and the landscape that surrounds him, but he also uncovers the truth about his family. This truth is completely unexpected and changes everything. This deeply moving book is about loss and survival and silence.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Text Publishing Company (15 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1922147338
  • ISBN-13: 978-1922147332
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,172,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

His book is a knockout, a fresh immaculately paced study of the process by which old information becomes new, and one of the bravest and best-written memoirs I have read (Daily Telegraph)

Throughout this brilliant memoir, the ultimate impact of the book lies with how openly and humanely Jones responds, as an author and a son, to a truer picture of his family (Australian Book Review)

Poetically observed detail and an affecting evocation of the past will reward readers interested in the way our history can shape us (Books + Publishing)

Lloyd is a masterful writer and his exquisite prose renders a city in much the same manner as a photographer, capturing the disaster before him in all its fine, grainy detail . . . A History of Silence is a unique and mesmerising book (Big Issue)

A History of Silence is as . . . wilful and compelling as his fiction (Canberra Times)

A pleasurable experience, gently paced and studded with lovely phrasing (Weekend Australian)

Very moving portrayal of a disquieting family mystery (Weekend Herald)

Eloquently portrayed (Sunday Times)

A History of Silence is ravishing, a work that takes the 2011 Christchurch earthquake as its touchstone and turns into an almost Joycean ramble through his memories of his family. It is often beautifully, painfully frank about how little he knew his late parents, as he obliquely traces their lives back to the start of the 20th century, sleuthing about to find the painful secrets in his mum's past. It's a work about the precariousness of our domestic realities, a cryptic true-life detective story (Metro) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A moving memoir about family from Man Booker shortlisted author Lloyd Jones. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I had the most peculiar reaction to reading this memoir by the very highly regarded Lloyd Jones. For the first five years of my life I lived 1.7kms in one direction from where the author was living out his childhood, and for the next 15 years I lived 1.7kms in the other direction. Our paths never crossed, (he is a few years older), but everything he writes about the place of Lower Hutt, and the sense of place is very strong in this book, had a startling ring of truth about it. From Stellin Street where I learnt to drive, to his days at the intermediate school, to the shop in the High St his school uniform was bought at, to his descriptions of Petone, the Hutt River bed, Eastbourne and the bays - I could see it all so clearly and in his retelling of his memory, he made me remember too. Just as wonderful was the quite amazing thought that just up the road a writer of such genius was slowly incubating!

Every family has its secrets, its stories that change over the years to accommodate new narrators and mores of the time, its black sheep, and often full truths never come out because they are too painful, considered too shameful, or quite simply just too hard to deal with. Lloyd Jones' parents, Joyce and Lew, were both extensively scarred by the circumstances of their childhoods, carrying their burdens into their marriage and the parenting of their five children, of whom Lloyd was the youngest by some ten years.

Lloyd grows up in a household of silence, where he and his siblings know very little about their parents' early lives. All they really know is that there was a fair bit of sadness. There is a complete lack of family stories, no photos on the walls, what he calls 'wilful forgetting'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing 23 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought this to read as have recently been to Christchurch and was appalled at how much still needs to be done .

Beautifully written book ,intriguing story reminds me somewhat of the books of Janet Frame, very evocative of the New Zealand countrysideand peoplesomehow countryside is not quite the correct word to describe the scenery of that amazing but altered land.
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3.0 out of 5 stars In quest of secrets behind the silence. 26 April 2014
By Sabina
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When Lloyd Jones goes to Christchurch in the aftermath of the big earthquake in 2011, seeing the cracks, fissures and wrecked foundations sets him thinking about his own familial ones. The journey to uncover the truths behind the 'silence' in his family takes him to places where he and some of his ancestors had lived. The trip to Wales, once home of his unknown grandfather is mostly unproductive, though it does provide space to think and ruminate on his family history, and the lack of it.
The centre of interest is the mystery behind his mother driving with him as a boy to sit in silence outside a particular house, watching out for a woman called Maud. This Maud, ("that old ratbag") was his mother's mother who had given her away at the age of four. Lloyd never meets her.
I found that my engagement with this memoir waxed and waned. The analogy of earthquake and personal familial turbulence did not grip me all the time. His narrative shifts between the earthquake metaphors, childhood memories, literary allusions, concepts of silence, various conjectures and accounts of his quest into uncovering the past;
"Of course the earthquake struck when and where it did, and to the naked eye of course the pattern of bad luck would seem random, unless of course you knew about the old city maps indicating subterranean waterways, and of course I would find myself born into a world of silence because that is precisely what the shamed bestows upon the progeny - a wilful forgetting."

I found it was worth reading through to his eventual discoveries (via a folder in the national archives) about Maud's plight and the reasons for her giving her daughter away. It leads him to re-evaluate what he knows and to make new links. The human story is moving, I found the art of the telling of this one frustrating and engaging in turn.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A timeless story 30 April 2014
By CJ
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a thought provoking essay. It will hold resonance with many, particularly if you are from New Zealand. Memories!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant, eloquent and, yet again, marvellous writing. 7 Nov 2013
By Kiwiflora - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I had the most peculiar reaction to reading this memoir by the very highly regarded Lloyd Jones. For the first five years of my life I lived 1.7kms in one direction from where the author was living out his childhood, and for the next 15 years I lived 1.7kms in the other direction. Our paths never crossed, (he is a few years older), but everything he writes about the place of Lower Hutt, and the sense of place is very strong in this book, had a startling ring of truth about it. From Stellin Street where I learnt to drive, to his days at the intermediate school, to the shop in the High St his school uniform was bought at, to his descriptions of Petone, the Hutt River bed, Eastbourne and the bays - I could see it all so clearly and in his retelling of his memory, he made me remember too. Just as wonderful was the quite amazing thought that just up the road a writer of such genius was slowly incubating!

Every family has its secrets, its stories that change over the years to accommodate new narrators and mores of the time, its black sheep, and often full truths never come out because they are too painful, considered too shameful, or quite simply just too hard to deal with. Lloyd Jones' parents, Joyce and Lew, were both extensively scarred by the circumstances of their childhoods, carrying their burdens into their marriage and the parenting of their five children, of whom Lloyd was the youngest by some ten years.

Lloyd grows up in a household of silence, where he and his siblings know very little about their parents' early lives. All they really know is that there was a fair bit of sadness. There is a complete lack of family stories, no photos on the walls, what he calls 'wilful forgetting'. Because he has nothing to compare this with, he grows up thinking nothing much about this lack, and is puzzled only momentarily when he goes driving, from time to time, with his mother to a house that they sit outside of for a while and then drive away again. His siblings are adults long before he is, and so he lives alone in the house with his parents, about whom he knows very little. One Christmas his older sister produces the results of her own research into their parents, a myriad mix of birth, death and marriage certificates which doesn't really answer any questions and leads to a whole lot more.

The devastating Christchurch earthquake of February 2011, was the catalyst Lloyd Jones needed to kick start his search for where he came from and what made him. Throughout the book, Jones uses Christchurch repairing itself and rebuilding its foundations as an analogy for him finding his own base and putting the pieces of his family puzzle into place. The narrative takes the reader from Christchurch to Lower Hutt, as far away as Wales, Wairarapa, the backblocks of North Canterbury, Wellington, backwards and forwards, to and fro, weaving and threading the story of a family through these places.

It is very moving to read such a personal account of a family's story, or more to the point the stories of Joyce and Lew. This memoir reads more as a tribute to the parents, and Lloyd himself finally seems to find out from whom he has inherited aspects of his own self and the influences that have shaped him. This is writing written with love and longing, and all the more poignant for that. The story teller in the author comes shining through as he expands on the lives of the people he is writing about, as they react to the events taking place around them. There are some threads I just could not figure out the relevance of - the boxing bout between Bob Fitzsimmons and Gentleman Jim Corbett springs to mind. But boxing was a big thing in the house he grew up in. Maybe I was just too tired to fully comprehend the significance. Never mind, such a tiny criticism, it barely matters.

This is a book I will treasure, not just because of the eloquent writing, but because he has given honour and integrity to the lives of two people who were unable to really find it for themselves during their own lifetimes. Read or watch the interview in the link below - well worth the time taken.
[...]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History of Silence 12 Jan 2014
By Dini Ariaans - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Loved Lloyd Jones's descriptive powers.
Loved the way he dug deep and found out the true reason why his parents and grandparents were the people they were.
I thought he would be judgmental of their faults but he is of an age where compassion leads to understanding and acceptance. He recognizes their unsung working class heroism.
The result has produced a writer of Lloyd Jones's calibre.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another poetic masterpiece from Lloyd Jones 7 Oct 2013
By S Easthope - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Writers like Lloyd Jones are rare indeed - and every time I read his work I am amazed by his ability to write in such a poetic way. Using the Christchurch earthquake as a back drop and metaphor for the forgotten history of his own family, he reminds the reader that our current reality only exists because of events that have gone before, and although we may have lost knowledge of our history, uncovering it can provide a deeper understanding and compassion for those that came before us.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A history of silence by lloyd jones 28 Sep 2013
By K. A. Burford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This would be one of the best books I have ever read. The authors comparison to his family heritage and the Christchurch earthquake are incredibly moving and reflective
The foundations of out lives are built on layers of family who came before us but have had a strong influence on who we are today
I would become recommend this book to everyone, especially those who.wish to understand the complexity of family???
5.0 out of 5 stars This silence speaks loudly 25 May 2014
By penny - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book really surprised me in the scope of subject and the immediacy of the experiences. Ostensibly it was about the Christchurch earthquakes and their aftermath, but it was also the exploration of family and the influence of silence and secrets personally and generally. Often in the narrative Lloyd Jones draws back the curtain of silence to reveal connections and events that were forgotten or ignored and the family silences happen against the background of the earthquakes and the stillness that they evoked.

The book is not an easy read, though it is well written. It requires careful reading as it develops the family story and exposes the realities behind the silences.

I enjoyed it very much indeed, and admire the author's creation of atmosphere and establishment of facts.
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