The Second Silence by Eileen GoudgeThe owner of a restaurant that my husband and I frequent shares a passion for reading  with me and one day she told me to check out Eileen Goudge’s books. I had never heard of Goudge, and to be honest, it took me a couple of months to check her out, and then only because my friend kept asking me if I had.

The Second Silence was the first book of hers that I read, and I loved it. It is a story that grows around generational relationships between a domineering mother and her daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter.

In 1969, Mary Quinn and Charlie Jeffers got married when they were both 17 years of age. At the time, Mary was five months pregnant. Her mother disowned her. Her ailing father had signed the consent papers for them to get married. They were “in love,” but Charlie had no skills to make a living. He’d taken the first job he could find, as office boy at the Burns Lake Register and he made less than what it took to provide necessities. Mary’s life suddenly became one of poverty and the demands of an infant filled her days.

When baby Noelle became very ill, Charlie decided that they had no choice but to take her to her grandmother for help, even though Doris Quinn had refused to acknowledge the child’s existence. When they arrived, a disapproving Doris took charge and helped bring Noelle’s high fever down. Once things were under control she made it plain that Mary and the baby could stay, but Charlie wasn’t welcome. Mary was tired and worn out, and she elected to stay with the baby. Charlie was too proud to beg her to come home with him, and when he left, even though they promised to talk later, both of them knew that love was not enough. Even though they loved each other the marriage was doomed.

Doris pushed Mary aside assuming control of her grandchild’s life. Defeated and confused, often haunted by what might have been, Mary left to make a career for herself and grandma raised Nicolle. Nicolle grew up feeling that her mother had abandoned her, and she looked to her grandmother for the relationship and support that she should have been able to have with Mary.

Eventually, a young Nicolle married her boss, Robert Van Doren, a man who is much older than her. In real life, he is nothing like the relaxed, casual man that his public persona portrays. He controls all aspects of their life. He provides a lavish lifestyle, but Nicolle is not comfortable with it. She had fallen into a drinking habit for a time, but has not drank for six years, when she finds out that he has been cheating on her. In 1999, after eight years of marriage, she decides that she can no longer stay with him. They have a five-year-old daughter, and when Nicolle tells him that she wants a divorce, he drops all pretense of civility.

“‘Do what you want,’ he snarled, jabbing a finger at her, ‘but don’t think for one minute I’m going to let you have Emma. I’ll fight you, Noelle. I’ll do whatever it takes.’ He loomed close, his face mere inches from hers. His right eyelid was twitching uncontrollably, and she thought of Dorian Gray, a handsome man whose real face, hidden in the attic, was monstrous. ‘You think any judge in his right mind would give you custody? A woman everybody knows is a drunk?’”

The gloves were off, but little did she realize just how far Robert would go to make certain that he gained custody of his daughter: or the complete depths of his dishonesty, corruption, and depravity.

I found the characters believable and relatable and there are plenty of twists and turns in the plot to hold my interest. This book weaves elements of a thriller with murder and corruption, a hint of romance, along with the enduring love of parents who risk themselves to keep their daughters world intact.

Once I finished The Second Silence, I read The Replacement Wife. I am a Goudge fan now—will definitely be reading more of her works.

To be honest, seeing that she was a New York Bestselling author, I never thought of writing a book review for Eileen Gouge, because I thought she would already have hundreds for all her books. This afternoon when I was checking out Woman in Blue, I saw that The Second Silence had fewer reviews than I would have imagined, and when I read some of them I was stunned at how critical some of them were. WOW—I guess even bestselling authors are fair game!

I highly recommend The Second Silence. If you read the critical reviews and hesitate to read the book, I would encourage you to take a chance. You may enjoy it as much as I did!

To purchase The Second Silence at Amazon.com, click here