Painter of Silence Paperback – 26 Apr 2012
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Conjures a tale that recalls vintage Michael Ondaatje ... delicate and sweeping (Daily Mail)
This is fiction of the most graceful kind ... a quiet storm of imagery and emotions (Christian House Independent on Sunday)
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 insists on being recommended because of its unassertive originality, its sense of history, its knowledge of the unsaid and the unsayable, and - not least - its delightfully surprising ending (Paul Bailey Independent)
Harding writes with exquisite restraint ... Her deceptively simple prose gives a startling beauty to the ordinary, and evokes great depth of suffering (Guardian)
Harding's writing has a careful, lilting fluency which nourishes a slow-burning momentum ... an adroit examination of our need for a home, and the terrible consequences of its loss (Philip Womack Daily Telegraph)
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 friendship
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
Augustin's story, and in particular the horrors to which he was subjected during the occupation of Romania, is conveyed with extraordinary poignancy. However, it is the unfolding of the events in the summer months leading up to the outbreak of war which is truly mesmerising.
Georgina's Harding's evocation of time and place is superb, and absorbs the reader completely in to the life and characters of Poiana. An overwhelming sense of nostalgia pervades the novel, for a golden age lost and forever irrecoverable, particularly for Safta. The prose is spare and beautiful, and draws the reader entirely in to the carefree, but restless atmosphere of the great house and its inhabitants.
The tragedy of the central characters is deeply and effortlessly conveyed, and haunts you long after finishing the novel, in spite of the story's uplifting ending.
This book is just over 300 pages long, but it seemed much shorter and I really didn't want it to end. It is easily the best book I've read so far this year.
The young man's name is Augustus; he was the son of the cook at Poiana, a grand rural estate which was Safta's family home and the place where both of them were born six months apart. We read how, as a very small child "growing up beside him in the days even before she herself learned to speak, little Safta had come to know him with a quick intuition as if he was the silent side of her self." However, as Safta grows into a beautiful young woman keen to embrace all that life has to offer and becomes very attracted to a young visitor to Poiana, she moves away from Augustus and he becomes the silent onlooker to her sexual awakening. And when Safta leaves Poiana, Augustus stays on, living his life in the way he has always done, until World War II rages through Europe and Romania is left in ruins only to be followed by the Communist takeover. There are things that Augustus needs to tell Safta, but can they be conveyed through the medium of his pictures?Read more ›
Safta immediately recognises him as the daughter of her family's maid, but decides not to tell her colleagues of their connection. In flashbacks the story is told of their childhood in a large house in the Romanian countryside. On the surface life is idyllic; Safta and her brothers are loved and cherished by their parents and encouraged in their education and ambitions. Their mother decides to make Augustin her `project', instructing the children's governess to try to teach him to read and write in order to give him every chance in life. However, Augustin's abilities as an artist are apparent from an early age and he shuns the written word and chooses to communicate through pictures.
Beneath this happy veneer all is not well within the family, and in the wider world the threat of war in Europe is looming. This is a relatively short book (I read it over the course of a day) but a very powerful and emotional read, the memory of which will stay with me for some time. It really brought home the devastation wrought on Romania and other Eastern European countries - not just by the war but also afterwards, when the Communists moved in and requisitioned houses and reassigned jobs to suit their own ideology.Read more ›
Romania is a not often described country, and Harding describes it in such an evocative haunting way that it captivates and stays with you long after you finish the book. Her vast range of characters each with their own strongly developed back story and Harding's expert use of time brings the story alive and mays it a joy to read. I cannot emphaise enough what a treasure this book is, you become completely absorbed into Harding's world and never want it to end. Brilliant.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a superb novel. ;well researched, it is set in the former Romania the time of the Balkan War( Moldavia). Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Wonderful book ! A period of history and the country I knew nothing about beautifully seen through the eyes of two Young people born poles apart.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
I loved this book and felt sad when I'd finished it, not because of how it ends but because I wanted to continue in the spell it wove. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Marlene Ruth Edelstein
The writing was okay, however it lacked any passion or real energy. I found it rather dull. However I did finish it.Published 11 months ago by Leisel-loves-to-read
A beautifully written book. I really enjoyed it but would have liked more historical detail about the war.Published 15 months ago by Lesley Taylor