Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Quietness - M's review

The Quietness by Alison Rattle

The Quietness is an action-driven historical novel with the rights of women at its heart. In a Victorian setting, a story about unwanted pregnancies, babyfarming and belonging unfolds.

The Quietness by Alison Rattle
The Quietness is about fifteen year old Queenie and sixteen year old Ellen, two characters whose stories interweave to reveal a complex picture of what Victorian life for women and girls, both working and middle class, was like. Packed full of poverty, prostitution, pregnancy, abortion, rape, childbirth, adoption, death and body care, this story is shocking and sad (and worse, based on true events). This is not a rose-tinted novel but it is also a story full of hope. Above all, I think it tells an important historical story that is intended for a teen readership.

The idea for this novel came about after the author had done extensive research for a non-fiction title. While based on historical facts and events, the story is not packed with dull historical notes. It is an easy read with short chapters and quite a fast pace.

For me, some elements of the plot were plausible but a bit unlikely. Some other readers might love these aspects. The ending is very neatly drawn together.

I think this is a good teen read about an important story that’ll likely bring a tear to your eye. Written for the teen market, it’s still a bit of a shocker and doesn’t beat about the bush. It might make you want to ask questions. Publisher Sarah Odedina describes Rattle’s writing as being along the lines of Mary Hooper. I think she is right.

If you’ve ever read Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses or Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray, or if you’ve ever watched Call the Midwife on television, you’re old enough and wise enough to read and enjoy The Quietness. More than anything, I’d like to see some boys reading this.

Historical notes and resource packs are available for this novel from the publisher.

Publication details: March 2013, Hot Key Books, London, paperback
This copy: review copy received from the publishers


  1. I love Mary Hooper's books as well as Malorie Blackman and I watch Call the Midwife every week so I'm sure that I'll enjoy this. Historical fiction is also one of my favourite genres and I particularly love the Victorian era so it does seem like this book is screaming at me to pick it up.

    I think it's good that authors feel that they can tell the truth within novels because when they try to sugar coat things it can feel as if it is a little fake. I'm all for writing things just as they were.

    Glad you enjoyed this one! :)

    1. Lucy, this sounds like one you'll really enjoy then. I've only read Velvet by Mary Hooper and I think she does a bit more sugarcoating than Alison Rattle has done. :)

  2. This sounds like I would enjoy it very much, I'm adding it to my TBR list. I'd also be interested in the academic research behind the novel, midwifery/maternity is one of my research interests, but usually pre-19th century.

    Thanks for the review!

    1. Sarah, you should get in touch with the publishers then, if you haven't yet.


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