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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 15 May 2013
The Quietness is a simply fantastic read. I didn't expect it to tug at my heart-strings so much, but it really did.

This harrowing story includes two young girls Queenie and Ellen living in Victorian England. They couldn't be more different from each other. Ellen has a privileged background, but she feels incredibly alone and different from her family, whereas Queenie lives in poverty and would love to live like a lady. Alison Rattle has done a fabulous job of developing these characters. I loved both of them and felt for them in their different, horrible situations. Fate brings them into one another's lives.

Queenie and Ellen's tales are told through the eyes of the girls, alternating between points of view, chapter by chapter. Sometimes this method doesn't work for me, because I find a character more interesting than the other, but I can honestly say with The Quietness I cared for both points of view. The chapters are so short as well, it's so easy to think "Just one more chapter.." then before you know it, you've finished the book!

I really enjoyed Alison Rattle's writing style. The story flowed nicely, it was gripping and incredibly evocative. I thoroughly recommend it.
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I must admit to being very envious of the youth of today, given the plethora of well written YA Historical Fiction which was sadly lacking in my younger days. Alison Rattle proves she is a force to be reckoned with, given the quality of her debut YA novel, The Quietness.

This is the story of two teenagers, Queenie and Ellen, who have very different experiences of life in London in 1870. Queenie is struggling to exist in the dark, impoverished side of the city whilst Ellen leads a privileged but not necessarily happy life with her austere, emotionally challenged parents. As the story progresses, the two girls find their lives interweaving but don't expect a fairytale ending!

The author excels at painting a realistic picture of late 19th century London, you feel the physical hunger of Queenie and her siblings and you are confronted with the seedier aspects of poverty, crime and prostitution. Also examined is the distasteful Victorian practice of baby-farming whereby unwanted babies were, for a small fee, taken away by `kindly' ladies who were supposed to find them new adoptive families. Women have few rights, be they low or high born and even the more socially elevated Ellen finds herself under the complete control of her unfeeling father. For all the social disadvantages facing Queenie's family, they definitely have a more loving relationship... albeit tough love.

Detailed scenes of childbirth make this novel more suitable for an older reader, most likely girls aged 14 and over. If you enjoyed Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper, you will be equally engrossed by The Quietness. Looking forward to reading more by this author.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 January 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
One of the best ways to judge how much you enjoy a book is the length of time it took you to finish reading it. Took no more than a few hours for me to read The Quietness and that's praise indeed. What a fabulous story. How dark and Gothic. Set in Victorian times (London 1870) and charting the lives of two different girls. Ellen (16) the daughter of a wealthy but eccentirc surgeon, and Queenie (15) living in poverty and squalor. Both of the girls dream of lives very different to the ones they live and little do they realise how one day their lives will entwine and change forever.

Cleverly written. The chapters alternate between the girls as they tell their story. That could have been disastorous if one character had been weaker than the other. They're not; Alison Rattle has produced two credible, believable characters in Ellen and Queenie and I had no trouble bonding with them. They're such wonderfully diverse people.

As the plot moves along it becomes apparent both girls are unhappy but, as we travel deeper into the story, they seem to have much more in common than anyone would have believed. As their worlds move closer fate takes an unexpected turn and brings them together with dramatic consequences. I'm not giving away anymore of the plot.

There are storylines in The Quietness concerning pregnancy and childbirth which younger children might find difficult to deal with as they're dark, brutal and written with a great deal of realism but; it's that sense of historical correctness that I loved the most about the book. Alison Rattle has captured the feeling of the era. You get a real sense of the filth, poverty and disease on the streets which she runs perfectly as a contrast against the velvet curtained, beautiful homes of the wealthy.

The Quietness is a story about women and although it's packed with darkness there's also a tremendous feeling of hope and friendship. Perfect for any age group over 14 years old and certainly not just for children. Can't recommend this book highly enough.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
1870. London. Two teenagers: Queenie, one of a family of seven living in a single room slum; Ellen, daughter of a wealthy eminent anatomist. Their lives become intertwined, in ways neither would have believed....

A distressing read, no punches pulled when describing how many women were then treated - shamelessly exploited, then branded as whores - fate of any offspring very upsetting indeed.

Both Queenie and Ellen prove resilient, and are destined to change the course of events. Astute readers may soon deduce the main link between the two. Men do not come out of the tale at all well, except for one rather unexpectedly. Also unexpected is the eventual portrayal of Queenie's family, it with a warmth and loyalty that proves very moving.

"Tomorrow will be different," is Queenie's philosophy. Does that mean better? The reader fervently hopes for a happy outcome.

Why the title? The answer chills. Here is an involving book to be read with increasing sadness and occasional rage.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a very good slice of modern Victoriana focusing on two girls: middle-class Ellen, and working-class Queenie. The story is told in alternating chapters, and sometimes the changeover is very fast which can make the story feel a bit choppy, but it does keep it fast-moving and dynamic.

There are some shocking scenes and quite a lot of harshness here so this might not be appropriate for under 14s. This does return to the staples of modern Victorian-set fiction: class, gender, sexuality. The plot is overly predictable in parts, and turns on a massive coincidence, while at other times it manages to pull off something unexpected that had me wrong-footed a couple of times.

Queenie is less engaging as a character than perhaps she should be, and large sections of her chapters drag. Despite the flaws, however, this is gripping and involving, with some important things to say. So this isn't a classic in the making - but it is a very good piece of storytelling.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 31 December 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a harrowing tale following two girls in Victorian England. One, Ellen, is the daughter of a well-off surgeon, whilst the other, Queenie, lives in squalid poverty. Ellen longs for a more interesting life, away from her strange father; Queenie longs to be 'a lady'. Fate brings them inextricably entwined in one another's lives, hurtling towards a traumatic conclusion.

The story is told through the eyes of the two girls, alternating viewpoints chapter by chapter. This is a brave technique, for it can leave the reader frustrated if one character's story is more interesting than the other. Fortunately Alison Rattle produces two fascinating tales, each as gripping as the other.

The writing is fluid and well-crafted; the plot expertly deployed so as to make the book difficult to put down - this reader read it all in one sitting. One slight criticism is that both the ending and middle are rather rushed when the long beginning is considered. It would have been nice to see a more considered and reflective ending, given how close we grow to the characters in the course of the novel. This is a small criticism in an otherwise brilliant read.

The book contains rather adult themes and is not recommended for those younger than 14. It's also a tale geared more towards female readers, heavily featuring themes of childbirth. A most enjoyable read - highly recommended.
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on 13 February 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I love a Victorian historical novel, and Mary Hooper is an author I enjoy very much. Sounding incredibly similar, this book really appealed to me.

The Quietness follows two girls from seemingly opposite ends of Victorian society. Ellen is the daughter of a prominent surgeon, while Queenie's drunken father sells fruit while he's on the wagon and her mother sells her body when he's fallen off to feed her children. What's interesting is that first appearances aren't always as they seem, and I was surprised by where my pity lay.

This is a pretty dark tale, covering subjects such as prostitution, rape and the horrific Victorian practice of baby farming. I found the dual narrative and short snappy chapters made this a fast paced, easy read which I finished in a couple of sittings. However, I found it a bit predictable, if I'm honest, and the characters quite clichéd and stereotypical. I was particularly disappointed in Queenie's character, and she didn't gain my sympathy or understanding the way she should have. I guessed the major twist very early on, however there was another thrown in right at the end which did leave me reeling.

I wanted to love this book more than I actually did. That's not to say it's a bad book, it's not at all and the author certainly shows promise and will be one I look out for in the future.
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I thought on first sight that this might be suitable for our older readers in the primary school library I look after. The synopsis made it sound rather like Jamila Gavin's Coram Boy, dealing as it does with the issue of unwanted babies.

It is not suitable for primary aged readers. It is definitely one for the teen/YA audience. I'd hesitate to recommend it to anyone under fourteen, unless you were sure they were a very mature reader. The book deals quite graphically with prostitution, birth, rape and the more unpleasant aspects of the already upsetting topic of baby farming.

Having said that, I thought this was an excellent book. It is very well written, has strong characters and a well plotted story line. I liked the fact that it pulls no punches, and I thought, despite the subject it was handled very thoughtfully indeed.
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on 12 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really enjoy reading a good young adult historical novel and Alison Rattle's debut novel, The Quietness, was a good read. It follows the story of two young girls in 1870's London.

Queenie, who is desperate to escape the slums and Ellen who is a privileged but lonely young girl. Their destinies become fatally entwined when they become involved with a pair of notorious baby-farmers. So-called Victorian baby-farmers took on unwanted children for a small fee. They were supposed to care for them as their own children but as you will see, in The Quietness, this very rarely happened.

Rattle is excellent at portraying the filth and squalor of Victorian London juxtaposed with and finery and richness of Ellen's life. She tackles some really difficult subjects, most of the time with finesse, but occasionally too lightly so sometimes some of the more difficult, or the most difficult issues, are skated over a little thinly.

On the whole I enjoyed The Quietness. It's fast paced and gripping and tackles some fascinating subjects.
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VINE VOICEon 9 January 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This a great story about two girls from opposite sidea of the social divide. Queenie lives in the slums of Victorian London, here depicted as oozing filth and atmosphere, and Ellen inhabits the sedate drawing rooms of her cold and overbearing parents. The girls meet when Queenie is employed by Ellen's family as a maid. But the story is not only that - it takes in crime, murder and assault, and the plot is dense and interesting enough for adult readers to enjoy this just as much as their young adult relations.

Apparently the story is based on a true one, and the research shows in the convincingly drawn portrait of two girls caught in the net of Victorian morals and values. An excellent read.
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