- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (1 Mar. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1408821125
- ISBN-13: 978-1408821121
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.8 x 22.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 92 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,049,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Painter of Silence Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012
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Georgina Harding conjures a tale that recalls vintage Michael Ondaatje ... A novel about the passage of time, the senselessness of war, and the need to find and preserve meaning, this is a richly satisfying read (Daily Mail)
I loved Painter of Silence. It was like entering a dream world that became more and more real, until I actually needed to get back to it. Her writing is so gentle and beautiful and takes you so confidently on a journey. I let myself be carried away. Heaven (Esther Freud)
Painter of Silence has recently been longlisted for the Orange Prize, an accolade it richly deserves ... Exquisite ... Her deceptively simple prose gives a startling beauty to the ordinary, and evokes great depth of suffering (Guardian)
Harding's prose is a quiet storm of imagery and emotions ... The rubble and ruin of post-war Romania is tenderly rendered ... it's a heartrending predicament expertly realised. Painter of Silence is further testament to a talent gradually sculpting an impressive body of work. It proves as smooth and serene as a slow incoming tide; the story washing over the pages until the reader is immersed in its depths. This is fiction of the most graceful kind (Independent)
A must-read ... Hauntingly beautiful, for fans of The English Patient (Viv Groskop Red)
An intimate and devastating portrait of Romania during and after the Second World War, through the prism of a moving and utterly original friendshipSee all Product description
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What pleased me most about the descriptions and the author's use of metaphors is that these seemed true to me. Indeed, they made me really take the time to stop and thing about the image she presented me with, and often these images resonated with my memories, how I had truly experienced an event. One passage particularly struck me: is in the city; in summer. Tinu's landlady is trying to sleep but there are dogs, lots of dogs, howling outside the window. This passage made me remember nights I have spent in the same situation, the somehow terrible randomness of the noise, the lack of pattern making it very difficult for the brain to ignore the sounds.
I really loved this book and strongly recommend it.
It wasn't even exactly that it was a bad story. It just took a long time to get to a point in the story where I was interested. Generally speaking I found the background story the most interesting, but that story didn't really pick up until the war started, and more so after the war. In ways I found the most interesting parts were over a little quickly. One particular example is when Augustin is telling part of his story to Safta. It felt like a rather sketchy version of a story which would have interested me. It seemed like there could be a big story there, but because it was told through Augustin's pictures we only got the outline. The nature of the story didn't really make this needed. I can see wanting to take time to reveal the story. I can even see why Harding gave such a basic version. I just didn't like it!
The Painter of Silence was on the shortlist for The Woman's Prize for Fiction (formally The Orange Prize) last year, and I can see why. It has a style of writing which tends to be popular with literary prizes
With those earlier 2 books, I got so far, so very far, but could not go to the final 5th star, as something, in each case, did not completely work
With her third book, 5 stars seem mean!
Set in Romania, before the second world war, and finishing some years later, when grim, Stalinist Communism had placed other changes upon that country, her central character is a young, deaf mute baby at the start, child of a servant in the great house, and the parallel life this child, and the daughter of the great house, inhabit. Childhood in the house for both of the infants, who are close in age and in friendship, is described in ways which evoke the much written about Edwardian landscape of pre first world war England - except that we have a much more unchanged, less modern world, in Romania. The children grow, and Tinu, the young boy, finds ways of seeing, interpreting and communicating the world through drawings.
It is a fascinating book. The central character is wordless, and those around him find a strange freedom to share their thoughts because he cannot hear or speak them.
Although a huge narration is happening in the book - the large historical events, much of it a dreadful history, Harding does not dwell on the narrative - changes are experience by snapshot images - she is a real adept at show-not-tell - for example, the couple in the city, and the relationship of fear and control set up by the Party machinery. She does not describe the interior landscape of her characters in dramatic language, there are these quiet pictures, postures, details, which reveal everything.
She is a cool, unjudgemental, compassionate writer, with no self-indulgence, and her descriptions of the very texture and presence of trees, cups, paper, dust and the matter of things is powerful. Tinu, as child and man, really experiences the physicality of the world in a totally present, almost meditative way - and Harding makes the reader do the same
I am now buying one of her non-fiction books, as her ability to evoke other lands and times is so utterly magnificent.In Another Europe: A Journey to Romania
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