Romania, the early 1950s. A nameless man is found on the steps of a hospital. Deaf and mute, he is unable to communicate until a young nurse called Safta brings paper and pencils with which he can draw. Slowly - painstakingly - memories appear on the page.
The memories are Safta's also, for the man is Augustin, son of the cook at the manor house which was Safta's family home. Born six months apart, they grew up with a connection that bypassed words. But while Augustin's world remained the same size, Safta's expanded to embrace languages, society ... and a fleeting love, one long, hot summer. But then came war, and in its wake a brutal Stalinist regime, and nothing would remain the same.
©2012 Georgina Harding (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
This very moving, beautifully written novel really SHOULD have won the Orange Prize. Set in Romania in a period covering roughtly the late 1930s to the early 1950s, Painter of Silence focuses on the life of Augustin, a deaf-mute with an astonishing ability for drawing, and Safta, a young nurse. The two formed a friendship as children, despite their differences in class: Augustin's mother worked as a cook in Safta's family's upper class mansion. At the beginning of the book, the young man, in terrible physical condition, arrives in the city of Iasi, looking for Safta, and collapses on the steps of the hospital where she works. When she hears that a deaf and dumb young man has been admitted, she feels certain that it is Augustin. The remainder of the book traces the events of their lives from their first meeting through the horrors of World War II and the Soviet takeover of Romania and, in the end, sets Augustin on his path towards the future.
This could have been just a typical war story, but it is so much more. It's a story about how we communicate, how we see the world, how we continue to strive for our best when those around us fall short. It's a story that is both unique and identifiable, and it's beautifully written. Harding does an excellent job of depicting the details of the landscape and daily lives of her characters, and she creates a voice that is soft yet powerful, a tone that is melancholic yet hopeful. Very highly recommended.
This is a people story rather than an action story, and the richness of detail and the well-developed character studies made it a pleasure to lose myself in pre- and post-WWII Romania.
Although peripheral, Savta's mother is a fascinating character. I'd gladly read a sequel or partner book focused on her.
I have not listened to any other books narrated by Thomas, but she is brilliant -- about 25 stars on a scale of 1-10. She could read my grocery list and make it meaningful and moving. Her voice and skill are an immense pleasure.
Reinventing ourselves through memory and forgetting.
I live in Scottsdale, Arizona. I have 5 grown children, play ukuele exercise, and read.
The reader whispers the entire book. I had my volume almost on high, and it's still difficult to understand her. It's so annoying that I almost can't concentrate on the book.
Not anything that's whispered by this reader.
I'm half way through this book, and I'm not sure if I'll even finish it.
Have it re-recorded by someone with a voice.
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