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The Silent Lady (2001)

by Catherine Cookson

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1412153,953 (3.14)3
The woman who presented herself at the offices of the respectable firm of London solicitors was, the receptionist decided, clearly a vagrant who had been sleeping on the streets. The clothes that hung on her frail body were filthy, and she seemed unable to speak. When she asked to see the firm's senior partner, Alexander Armstrong, she was at first shown the door - but then the entire office staff were disrupted by Mr Armstrong's reaction when he learned his visitor's name - clearly Irene Baindor was a woman with a past, and her emergence from obscurity was to signal the unravelling of a mystery that had baffled the lawyer for twenty-six years.What Irene - the silent lady of the title - had been doing, and where she had been, gradually emerged over the following weeks as Armstrong met the unlikely benefactors who had befriended her and helped her to build a useful and satisfying life in a sheltered environment. Now, at last, she was able to confront her tortured and violent past and find great happiness and contentment with the help of old friends and some newer ones.… (more)
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I'd rate this the best Catherine Cookson novel, and I've read roughly 50 of hers. It's a bit out of pattern for her in that it's not a love-across-class generational saga. Instead, it's a compassionate, human story of abuse and redemption. Beautiful, poignant story. ( )
  libelulla1 | Jul 2, 2017 |
This book starts when a dishevelled woman turns up at a solicitor's and is nearly turned away. However it soon become clear that she has been missing for 26 years so where has she been.


We are then taken back 26 years and learn her story and how destitute and alone she was taken in by Bella who loved her as a mother along with her boys.


This is a beautiful if sad story told with great pathos and although gritty and hard is also full of hope and fun. How the family's hardships are dealt with is told without feeling unreal and forced.

Unusually for Catherine Cook on the book is set in London rather than North East England and is a fitting end to her literary career ( )
  Northern_Light | Dec 20, 2016 |
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The woman who presented herself at the offices of the respectable firm of London solicitors was, the receptionist decided, clearly a vagrant who had been sleeping on the streets. The clothes that hung on her frail body were filthy, and she seemed unable to speak. When she asked to see the firm's senior partner, Alexander Armstrong, she was at first shown the door - but then the entire office staff were disrupted by Mr Armstrong's reaction when he learned his visitor's name - clearly Irene Baindor was a woman with a past, and her emergence from obscurity was to signal the unravelling of a mystery that had baffled the lawyer for twenty-six years.What Irene - the silent lady of the title - had been doing, and where she had been, gradually emerged over the following weeks as Armstrong met the unlikely benefactors who had befriended her and helped her to build a useful and satisfying life in a sheltered environment. Now, at last, she was able to confront her tortured and violent past and find great happiness and contentment with the help of old friends and some newer ones.

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