Saturday, 24 March 2012

Orange 2012: Painter of silence (Georgina Harding)

So, I haven't posted any pictures of the book covers from the Orange List mainly because I'm being lazy and getting on with reading and making sure that the reviews go up, but I will post the cover of Painter of silence because I love it. Befitting a book about a painter I suppose is the need to have a nice cover and I like the sense of atmosphere and period it evokes.

I found Painter of silence an extremely lyrical read which I enjoyed. It's a story told in two strands. In the 1950s a frail man is found in a state of collapse outside the hospital in Iasi, in Romania. There is nothing to identify him, and he does not communicate, after a few days one of the nurses realises that he is mute. Safta, one of the nurses recognises the patient, and although she does not want this to be known amongst the rest of the nursing staff she makes an effort to bring in drawing materials to try to communicate with him via sketching and to try to help him remember shared childhood memories. Interleaved with these events is the story of the patient, Augustin's childhood. He was the son of a cook at the house where Safta grew up. Safta's mother benevolently tried to provide him with education but with no hearing it was difficult for him to communicate and he preferred to draw rather than learn to read or write. Safta grew up, fell in love, and moved away whilst Augustin stayed behind during the Second World War. And the book continues with the filling in of the gaps in their stories when the only way that they can communicate is through pictures.

It reminded me a little in style of other books about artists and art, I would suggest that if you enjoyed for example The quickening maze by Adam Foulds then you would also like to read this. For me it went a little bit off the boil the more I read, I continued to enjoy the style of writing but felt less interested in how it worked out.


  1. This is the only one of the Orange titles that I have bought that I didn't already own, so I'm very curious to hear what people think. I've read one of her other books which I really enjoyed. Glad to hear the writing is so eloquent--I'll get to it eventually.

  2. You're right about the Adam Fould's link - they are similar in style. Unfortunately it isn't a style I enjoy - I gave up on this one too :-(


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