Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Daughter of Silence, Morris L West, Dell Publishing, 1961, 243 pp

I didn't like this one. It was the #8 bestseller in 1961 and is the story of a murder trial in Tuscany written by a popular Australian author. The characters all have troubled personalities. Two psychiatrists involved in the trial spout lots of Freudian analysis. The writing is turgid and I could see the climax coming long before it happened.

To make the legal angle more exciting, the author introduces the ancient Italian practice of vendetta. That was interesting to a point but because West is not Italian, it all feels like an outsider and a spectator trying to make sense of people and traditions he does not truly understand.

The female characters are ridiculous: the murderer (a woman) is deeply crazy due to childhood trauma, the lawyer's wife is compulsively promiscuous, while a young painter is wise and compassionate beyond her years. Standard bestseller types who still show up in current novels such as Gone Girl.

I call this kind of book "bestseller bullshit" though some authors, such as Harold Robbins with The Carpetbaggers, are so good at it they at least entertain the reader.

(Daughter of Silence is out of print. It is best found in libraries or through used book sellers.)


  1. This author, Judy, I know. Morris West is the author of The Shoes of the Fisherman, The Clowns of God, and Lazarus, which is a trilogy based on the Vatican. I read the first and the last and really loved the last. I have those in my re-read list to be reviewed sometime in the far future, but I like Vatican life and politics and consider at least those two books I read by West, classics.
    BTW, The Shoes of the Fisherman became a fulfilled prophecy when John Paul II was elected pope, because the book is about a pope born in a communist country when at the time that was unthinkable.

    1. Well the Shoes of the Fisherman was the #1 bestseller in 1963 so I will surely be reading that. Maybe I will like it better. Thanks for your recommendation and for being such a good follower at my blog!

  2. This one sounds confusing.