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The Silent Boy by Andrew Taylor
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The Silent Boy

by Andrew Taylor

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Showing 5 of 5
Very enjoyable and atmospheric. Genuinely creepy moments. Dickens like - and I'm a Dickens fan. It's no Tale of Two Cities though, as the vast majority of the action is in Britain. It gets especially gripping half way through, so stick with it. Can't believe I've not come across this writer before. A friend recommended him. Andrew Taylor is first class on imaginative description of place, painting pictures in the mind. I think he's good on character too, with strong caricatures pervading the action, just like good old Charles D. ( )
  Panfried | Sep 3, 2016 |
Creepy, confusing story about a kid who witnesses his mother's death during the French Revolution and then is spirited away by two factions. He doesn't talk. You want to smack him. Reviewed for Booklist. ( )
  jenzbaker | Oct 25, 2015 |
In this historical novel, the two mysteries are why is the boy silent and why do so many people seem to want to get their hands on him. Ultimately, I found the investigation more compelling than the answers, but I liked the book a lot. I enjoyed the author's style of writing with intelligence, intensity and humor and I thought that the period details were very well done.

The book opens in Paris in 1792 with 10 year old Charles seeking refuge after his mother Augusta is killed in the French Revolution. He is taken in by a Count, a former priest and a doctor and the whole group soon flees to England. No one can be sure of the identity of Charles's father (there are numerous candidates) but the Count is convinced that he is the father. Once the group is in England, Augusta's estranged husband Savill reluctantly asserts his parental rights to the boy.

Charles is silent. He cannot or will not speak a word since his mother's death. He has other unusual traits as well, such as his compulsion to count and recount the paces measuring his surroundings and his fascination with Louis, a creepy anatomical figure of a boy with the skin removed in order to display its muscles. Charles is a very touching and resourceful character and I loved the chapters told from his point of view, as one faction after another vied to take control of him.

The book takes its time and lets the story and the attachments between the characters develop. I did figure out the villain pretty early on, but their motivation was a surprise. I felt that the book took a fairly sordid and not very believable turn at end.

I did not read A Scent of Death, the prior book featuring Savill, but I really liked Savill as a character and this book works fine as a standalone.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. ( )
  fhudnell | Aug 14, 2015 |
I hesitate to even tag this novel with 'French Revolution', which was the primary reason I downloaded a copy (old habits die hard). Bar a line or two of exposition, most of the action takes place in London and the Revolution is relegated to a dramatic device. The secondary reason was that I have read various other stories by Andrew Taylor, and all have been well written, if not exactly thrilling. On that score, I would also hesitate to score this latest attempt with a middling three stars - the whole book, plot, characters and historical setting, smacks of Dickens-by-numbers. Which would be fine, but I thought I was reading about the late eighteenth century, not the mid-Victorian.

The concept is passable - a young boy is brought to England by a wealthy French emigre escaping the Terror of the Revolution in Paris. His mother was murdered and someone has warned Charles not to say a word - and so he is struck mute, unable to reveal the killer and shorten the story by a good four hundred pages. Various forces are hoping to claim the child for their own devious purposes - the French Count, and a murky minister who enlists the help of his late niece's estranged husband to retrieve the boy.

And - that's when everything goes all to cock, if you'll pardon my French. The dialogue is woeful, to begin with, and Mr Taylor is usually quite convincing when penning historical novels - I would use my Kindle to search for the total number of times that 'sir', 'ma'am', 'stay' and 'pray' are employed to sound old-fashioned, but I can't be bothered. Needless to say, there are many occasions, and the ploy doesn't work. More importantly, the characters are paper thin, reading more like a penny dreadful than Dickens - the pantomime child catcher who 'screeches like a chicken' was ridiculous. The young boy's murdered mother is given a pathetic, clichéd backstory, and the only other women are saintly daughters or servants. Savill, the 'hero', if you will, is a flimsy protagonist, swooning like a girl, latching onto the wrong end of the stick and generally failing to do right for doing wrong. Would a man of that era really be so blasé about tracking down the bastard son of his estranged wife, who chuffed off to the continent with a German soldier while he was away fighting in America? The various villains, real and red herring, are all cartoonish. In fact, the only character with a flash of spirit is Charles, who manages to escape from three different abductors, and all without saying a word. Only a pity that his reward is Savill as a step-parent. The serpentine 'surprises' of the final chapters also woefully ineffective - I knew who Charles was running from the moment he was introduced, and raising the dead only to finish them off again served absolutely no purpose. And why is Charles haunted by nightmares of blood falling like rain, exactly - the Paris atmosphere? Plus, bonus ironic beneficiaries of the killer's will and a tacked-on revelation that would make Hollyoaks proud. Sigh. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | May 20, 2015 |
Although i am a fan of Thrillers & History I have never come across the author Andrew Taylor before & i am very glad Thanks to goodreads First reads giveaway that i have had the chance to read this book.

Very good story line again another book i had trouble putting down you immerse yourself in this story! I will be finding out & purchasing Andrew Taylor books in the future! I highly recommend this book.

Historical thriller set during the French Revolution. Paris, 1792. Terror reigns as the city writhes in the grip of revolution. The streets run with blood as thousands lose their heads to the guillotine. Edward Savill, working in London as agent for a wealthy American, receives word that his estranged wife Augusta has been killed in France. She leaves behind ten-year-old Charles, who is brought to England to Charnwood Court, a house in the country leased by a group of emigre refugees. Savill is sent to retrieve the boy, though it proves easier to reach Charnwood than to leave. And only when Savill arrives there does he discover that Charles is mute. The boy has witnessed horrors beyond his years, but what terrible secret haunts him so deeply that he is unable to utter a word? ( )
  maximeg | Apr 14, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0007506589, Paperback)

From the No. 1 bestselling author of THE AMERICAN BOY comes a brilliant new historical thriller set during the French Revolution. Paris, 1792. Terror reigns as the city writhes in the grip of revolution. The streets run with blood as thousands lose their heads to the guillotine. Edward Savill, working in London as agent for a wealthy American, receives word that his estranged wife Augusta has been killed in France. She leaves behind ten-year-old Charles, who is brought to England to Charnwood Court, a house in the country leased by a group of emigre refugees. Savill is sent to retrieve the boy, though it proves easier to reach Charnwood than to leave. And only when Savill arrives there does he discover that Charles is mute. The boy has witnessed horrors beyond his years, but what terrible secret haunts him so deeply that he is unable to utter a word?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:20 -0400)

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