A Small Dark Quiet by Miranda Gold
I’ve been interested in Unbound since the huge success of The Good Immigrant, which began its journey there. For those of you who haven’t heard about Unbound, it’s a crowdfunding publisher that allows you to support projects you love and help get wonderful ideas published. One of these recent successful projects is A Small Dark Quiet by Miranda Gold.
About the Book
March 1945. The ravaged face of London will soon be painted with victory, but for Sylvie, the private battle for peace is just beginning. When one of her twins is stillborn, she is faced with consuming grief for the child she never had a chance to hold. A Small Dark Quiet follows a mother as she struggles to find the courage to rebuild her life and care for an orphan whom she and her husband, Gerald, adopt two years later.
Born in a concentration camp, the orphan’s early years appear punctuated with frail speculations, opening up a haunting space that draws Sylvie to bring him into parallel with the child she lost. When she gives the orphan the stillborn child’s name, this unwittingly entangles him in grief he will never be able to console. His own name has been erased, his origins blurred. Arthur’s preverbal trauma begins to merge with the loss he carries for Sylvie, released in nightmares and fragments of emerging memories to make his life that of a boy he never knew. He learns all about ‘that other little Arthur’, yearning both to become him and to free himself from his ghost. He can neither fit the shape of the life that has been lost nor grow into the one his adopted father has carved out for him.
As the novel unfolds over the next twenty years, Arthur becomes curious about his Jewish heritage, but fears what this might entail – drawn towards it, it seems he might find a sense of communion and acceptance, but the chorus of persecutory voices he has internalised becomes too overwhelming to bear. He is threatened as a child with being sent back where he belongs but no one can tell him where this is. He wanders as an adult looking for purpose but is unable to find his place. Feeling an imposter both at home and in the city, Arthur’s yearning for that sense of belonging echoes in our own time.
Meeting Lydia seems to offer Arthur the opportunity to recast himself, yet all too soon he is trapped in a repetition of what he was trying to escape. A past he can neither recall nor forget lives on within him even as he strives to forge a life for himself. Survival, though, insists Arthur keeps searching and as he opens himself to the world around him, there are flashes of just how resilient the human heart can be.
Through Sylvie’s unprocessed grief and Arthur’s acute sense of displacement, A Small Dark Quiet explores how the compulsion to fill the empty space death leaves behind ultimately makes the devastating void more acute. Yet however frail, the instinct for empathy and hope persists in this powerful story of loss, migration and the search for belonging.
You can read an excerpt from the novel via this link. If you like what you read then please support the book in any way you can.
Where to Buy
International readers can purchase the paperback from Book Depository.
About the Author
Miranda Gold is a writer based in London. Her first novel, Starlings, published by Karnac in December 2016, reaches back through three generations to explore how the impact of untold stories about the Holocaust ricochets down the years. Before turning her focus to fiction, Miranda took the Soho Theatre Course for young writers, where her play, Lucky Deck, was selected for development and performance. A Small Dark Quiet is her second novel.
If you want to find out more about some of the themes influencing the book then you should definitely check out this wonderful interview by Bridget Galton on etcetera.
I hope this post has made you want to add this book to your TBR pile. You can add it to Goodreads here. I’d love to hear what you think about the book in the comments as well.