Read The Quietness by Alison Rattle Online


When fifteen-year-old Queenie escapes from the squalid slums of nineteenth-century London, she has no idea about the dangers of the dark world she is about to become embroiled in. Initially thrilled at being taken on as a maid for the seemingly respectable Waters sisters, Queenie comes to realise that something is very wrong with the dozens of strangely silent babies beingWhen fifteen-year-old Queenie escapes from the squalid slums of nineteenth-century London, she has no idea about the dangers of the dark world she is about to become embroiled in. Initially thrilled at being taken on as a maid for the seemingly respectable Waters sisters, Queenie comes to realise that something is very wrong with the dozens of strangely silent babies being 'adopted' into the household.Meanwhile, lonely and unloved sixteen-year-old Ellen is delighted when her handsome and charming young cousin Jacob is sent to live with her family. She thinks she has finally found a man to fall in love with and rely on, but when Jacob cruelly betrays her she finds herself once again at the mercy of her cold-hearted father. Soon the girls' lives become irrevocably entwined in this tension-filled drama. THE QUIETNESS is a novel of friendship and trust in the darkest of settings....

Title : The Quietness
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781471401015
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 278 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Quietness Reviews

  • Lindsay
    2019-05-11 02:38

    In this novel aimed at young adults, we are transported back to Victorian London. It is 1870, and we meet fifteen-year-old Queenie who has a miserable standard of living in a slum area, sharing a room with her parents and siblings. She decides to leave one day, little realizing what horrors there are in the world beyond the only one she has known so far.Across London, sixteen-year-old Ellen lives a different life. She has a beautiful home and a privileged existence. However, she is very lonely. Her mother is cold and distant, and her father is equally cold towards her.The novel follows the fortunes of these two girls, with the author depicting the events that befall them, and the gradual coming together of their lives. The title of the novel is cleverly incorporated into the storyline in several ways. I don’t want to say too much about the main aspect that it refers to, only to mention that Queenie finds a position helping two sisters with babies that women have had to give away because their circumstances don’t allow them to keep them. The atmosphere of London and life there back then is very well evoked. I felt transported back to the poverty, the dirt and desperation through the character of Queenie, walking alongside her. Ellen experiences loneliness and longs for a family who cares for her and loves her. Queenie has a family who loves her but she longs to improve her life. The frustration and unhappiness of both their lives comes across powerfully and I felt for both characters. As their paths meet, Ellen and Queenie form a firm friendship that is strong and will be key to both their futures.I enjoyed this book a lot. It deals with friendship, sadness, families, loneliness and a terrible crime. I think that through this story the author offers some telling insights into the awful limitations on a woman’s life back then, having little choice but to behave as men instructed or risk being incarcerated or worse. As an adult reader, I am older than the target audience but I think adults will enjoy this one too. I did guess at some of the secrets in the story before they were revealed, and this possibly lessened the tension a little for me, but nevertheless I still very much enjoyed reading on and discovering the full extent of the twists and turns in the narrative and learning the outcome of the story.

  • Luna
    2019-04-28 01:34

    The Quietness is a beautifully written and haunting tale of two girls in Victorian London. Queenie is poor, with a father who drinks and more siblings then they can feed. Ellen on the other hand is a privileged young lady. Both girls meet at the house of the Water sisters, Queenie is the maid and Ellen a ‘guest’.There is much to love about The Quietness; apart from the wonderful writing you have two completely different characters, neither of which is preferable to the other. The alternating narration (3rd person vs 1st) is a little unusual but you get used to it pretty quickly.While it’s easy to sympathise with Queenie from the start I was surprised by how much I cared about Ellen. Her father made my blood boil on so many occasions and how I wish I could have crawled into the pages to yell at him. (I always think it’s the best books that make you want to do that.)I can only compliment Alison Rattle on a great story with a brave ending. I don’t want to spoil anything but wow I was still thinking about it long after I finished the book.

  • Elizabeth Moffat
    2019-05-14 01:31

    I would give this four and a half stars if I could.The Quietness is a beautifully realised and original piece of work that has a bite of real history behind it. The author introduces us to two sisters that actually existed in Victorian England and were known collectively as the “Brixton Baby Farmers,” who were responsible for the deaths of nineteen infants by starvation. Our main characters, Ellen and Queenie become embroiled in this nasty business when Queenie is employed as a maid for the sisters under false pretences, unaware of what is really going on. Ellen, on the other hand becomes a “fallen woman” when she becomes pregnant and is sent to the sisters’ house in disgrace by her father, a prominent anatomist to have her bastard child in secret. As a historical novel for young adults, I think it has passion and depth and will definitely succeed in making people more interested about our past, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.Please see my full review at

  • Kirsty
    2019-05-13 01:17

    I loved the Quietness which I thought was a brilliantly engaging read as kept me fascinated from the first page until the last and gave real insight into the underbelly of Victorian society. If you enjoyed Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper or Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series you love this book.The Quietness follows the story of two teenage girls. Ellen is from a rich family and lives a life of luxury on one side of London bridge and Queenie comes from a poor family and faces poverty on a daily basis living on the other side of London bridge. Neither girl is happy with their very different lives and as the book unfolds it becomes clear that they actually have more in common than it would first appear. What I loved most about this book is that you get a real sense of period and what life was like for the people who lived in the time period the book is set in. I like how the story gives you that without becoming dry or overburdening you with boring details which can really slow a story down and therefore make it dull like some historical fiction can. I love that this book gives you the history in an engaging and exciting way that keeps you entertained page after page. This is exactly the way I think historical fiction for teens should be written. I loved both main characters equally and enjoyed following their stories both separately both also once they merge when the two meet. It was interesting to have both perspectives on life in Victorian London and really couldn't put the book down as I found myself needing to know more and find out what happened next to the girls. I won't tell you too much about the issue the book finally centres around for fear of spoiling it but i will say I found it absolutely fascinating and a part of history that I don't think a lot of people are as aware of as they could be. The ending was both unexpected and heart wrenching. While I don't think it could have been done better it did leave me sat in a stunned silence for a good while after I'd read it.A fantastic read which kept me up reading long after my bedtime which spoke to the history geek in me. A perfect example of historical fiction for teens done well. I'll be recommending this book for a long time to come.

  • Serendipity Reviews
    2019-05-10 02:32

    Originally posted on from two perspectives in first and third person, this book portrays a very dark and realistic image of Victorian London. The two main characters, Queenie and Ellen’s are the complete opposite of each other and yet each suffers in their own way. The author takes both extremes and skilfully blends them together. Queenie’s life is extremely hard. To have to fight for every morsel of food on a daily basis must have been indescribable. Yet she was loved. She came from a family that cared, even if they sometimes went off the rail. However, Queenie is oblivious to the love that surrounds her; she is too consumed by her need to escape poverty to see it.On the other hand, Ellen has everything money could buy; however money can’t buy the thing you need most in life – love. The clinical coldness of her father sent shivers down my spine. He really was a boneless creature. His unhealthy interest in the workings of his daughter’s body was extremely weird. Ellen’s life was cold and lonely and I just wanted to hug her. Queenie and Ellen are such wonderful characters, with strong convictions and lots of emotion. Through every sadness they suffered, you felt every bit of it through the author’s narrative. During the birth scene, I felt the strong emotions that bound the mother and child, an excellent example of the writer’s ability to portray realistic emotions through her words.The story unravels delicately as we gradually learn more about the two girls. Surprises will occur naturally within the plot as you lose yourself in the story. The chapters are quite short and you find yourself reading the book very quickly, eager to find out what happens next to each character. The descriptions of Victorian London are vivid, yet brutal and honest. The author has taken the historical information and breathed life into it, make it real and easy to imagine. I could easily see this book being televised.I really loved this book, even though it did make me cry at the end. A stunning portrayal of hidden history that needs to be told.

  • Chrissi
    2019-05-20 00:30

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was very moving. The Quietness is incredibly easy to read, I devoured it in almost one sitting. I absolutely loved the two main characters. My full review can be found here

  • Sophie
    2019-05-15 02:27

    An incredible Victorian drama - brutal and haunting, but an inspiring tale of courage at the same time.

  • Kayla Bellinger
    2019-04-24 01:26

    I was having a lot of difficulty finding a book that begins with the letter Q for my reading challenge, and decided on The Quietness because the title sounded nice and the blurb sounded interesting. I honestly didn't have high expectations, and so this book blew me away a little bit.The Quietness is set in London in 1870 and follows the lives of dual protagonists Queenie, the eldest child of a mostly penniless costermonger, and Ellen, the only child of a highly respected anatomist. Queenie's family consists of her mother, father, three little brothers and the baby, all living in one room in the slums. Though her father often disappears to go drinking, and her family is starving, there is love in her home. Ellen's life is a lot different. Her house is large, beautiful, and silent. Her father is a very cold man, who regards people as possessions, and her mother is a very fragile woman who can barely look at Ellen. The only love she knows is from her old maid, Mary, and her life is full of days of doing nothing at all. Death touches their lives and everything begins to change, setting their lives on a dread-filled path that will lead them to each other.The book tells both of their stories, swapping character chapter by chapter, but also changing writing style. Queenie's story is told in third person limited, but Ellen's is written in first person. I'm not entirely sure why Rattle decided to write each character so differently, but perhaps it was to show the reader just how different their experiences were. The switch was a little jarring sometimes, but it certainly worked. Sometimes, though, after Queenie and Ellen had met (which happens much later in the book than I'd have expected), Queenie would refer to Ellen as Ellen and I'd wonder who she was talking about for just a moment 'cause, naturally, Ellen doesn't refer to herself in third person.I was first taken by the stark reality that Rattle presents the reader in the first chapter. The setting of this book isn't romanticised in the least, which was surprising considering this is a young adult novel. We first meet Queenie while she and her father are desperately trying to sell fruit, to no avail. Her father then makes her go to a gin shop, where she offer the drunks a feel of her backside for a penny. She comes back bruised and embarrassed, and I immediately sympathised with her. Not long after, her baby sibling dies of starvation, and she is relieved that it won't have to suffer any longer. Her father then disappears for weeks, leaving her mother to sell her body while her children hide behind a sheet so that they can still eat. There were some very confronting scenes in this book regarding sexual assault and child abuse, but each one was written with tact, and I appreciated them all. There's no way this story could have been written without them, and Rattle writes them honestly, but not shockingly, so that the story can progress. But, just in case you were wondering, this is not a happy book. Victorian England was not the nicest place to live, certainly not if you were poor or a woman, and the story deals with some of those struggles to tell the larger story. (view spoiler)[After Ellen is raped by her cousin, and her father confronts her about her pregnancy, she fearfully confesses what happened. He responds by telling her not to use the weakness of men as an excuse for her morality, and continues to call her a whore. (hide spoiler)] I wasn't taken aback, necessarily, by the language or the situation, but it was, again, confronting to remember that there was a time in history when an unmarried pregnant woman was considered to be complete scum, regardless of how she fell pregnant. It baffles me to think that men were never held responsible for their actions in these situations, and I'm ashamed to think that the world still hasn't quite shaken those ideas.I'd like to take a moment to discuss the title of the book, and how it was weaved throughout the story. The first time we hear the phrase, I think, is at the end of Ellen's first chapter. The previous chapter ended with Queenie wishing for some quiet, as the place she lived was never peaceful. Ellen's chapter ended with her describing the empty silence that she lived in, or 'the quietness', and we know just how different their lives are. Then, further into the book, (view spoiler)[we learn that The Quietness is what Mrs Waters calls the medicine that she doses the babies with, leaving them silent and docile. (hide spoiler)] I think that this is perhaps where the title of the book comes from, but it's not the whole story. The Quietness also refers to the swept-under-the-rug nature of the lives of these characters. Ellen's mother rarely speaks, and her father rarely permits conversation anyway. She has an aunt and a cousin that she has never known about because of a falling out. Queenie's mother doesn't mention the fact that her father was gone for months after the baby died, she just welcomes him back into her bed. Mrs Waters, Queenie's eventual employer, doesn't speak about her business, and even though Queenie begins to see the signs, she hides them all in her mind so that she won't have to think of them. There are secrets everywhere, being kept for the sake of reputations or convenience, and that's what I think The Quietness is referring to.This book is a hard book, especially considering the dark heart of the novel, which is the place where Queenie and Ellen meet. Still, I really enjoyed reading it, and devoured it in mostly one sitting. I would recommend this book to anyone, really, over the age of maybe thirteen. The Quietness is an excellently written book, one that I couldn't put down, and it covers a number of important historical topics. I really, really hope that I can convince some people I know to read it, as I'd love to have someone to discuss the themes with. That being said, I do warn readers that there are scenes that might be too confronting or triggering for people who have experienced sexual assault or child abuse. That being said, if you can stomach those scenes, The Quietness is well worth the read.

  • Kattiebee
    2019-04-18 19:22

    I thought I would love this book. I’ve been hyping myself up about “The Quietness” since it was published in 2013 but I never got around to reading it until now. And now that I have actually read it I’m not only feeling underwhelmed, I’m feeling sad and angry. I’m feeling betrayed. “The Quietness” with its gorgeous cover and interesting blurb seemed like a book that I would just have to like. I’m not quite sure why I was so certain it would be phenomenal but it’s kind of my own fault I was disappointed. Except not really. Let me explain.OF FRUIT SELLERS AND RICH GIRLSI liked “The Quietness” well enough at first. Alison Rattle captures Victorian London quite well, from the squalid slums near Waterloo bridge to the lavish mansions of Bloomsbury and everything in between. “The Quietness” is quite a dark book. The atmosphere is gloomy throughout and that’s where my problems with the book began. It’s so dark, so hopeless and gloomy, it smothers you. I usually like books with a darker atmosphere but “The Quietness” is just overdoing it. There’s no hope at all, nothing good happens to even out all the bad stuff and the more you read, the more you feel somewhat icky, like this book is leaving a stain on you, that’s how gloomy it is. I felt uncomfortable a lot but not in the good way.Some books aren’t enjoyable at all. Some books make you uncomfortable, they force you to think and immerse yourself in all that darkness and in the end you feel it was worthwhile. “The Pleasures of Men” by Kate Williams was such a book for me. So was “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart, which I loved so much I can’t even find the words to review it. “The Quietness” however was just dark and unpleasant to read. It wasn’t worthwhile. Just depressing.It’s basically the story of two young women: One born into absolute poverty but loved by her family, the other the daughter of rich middle class parents but unloved. When their lives intertwine, they find themselves in extreme danger. I liked the premise well enough. It’s an interesting concept and I was hoping for some nice insight into Victorian society, the gap between rich and poor and how the two heroines, Queenie and Ellen, would each deal with their position in life. But “The Quietness” never uses any of its potential at all. It’s shallow as a puddle in your back garden. It never really goes into the workings of Victorian society, its double standards and ideas of ethics, poverty and wealth and that’s a shame since it tries to deal with some heavy topics.OF VICTORIAN STEREOTYPES AND REALITIESThere’s a rape scene in “The Quietness”. It happens around the 30 percent mark so it’s not really a spoiler. I’m going to talk about it in detail because I was so bothered by the author’s attempt at dealing with such a serious topic so if you’re uncomfortable reading about rape please skip the next few paragraphs. What happens is that Ellen gets raped by someone she trusted and when her father finds out he turns on her. He calls her a whore and tries to get rid of her because he thinks her virtue is ruined. He goes as far as to tell her that she can’t blame “the weaknesses of men” for what happened to her, that it’s basically her own fault.I’m bothered by this portrayal of a Victorian reaction to rape because it’s wrong from start to finish. The Victorians did not condone rape. Rape was a serious offence and rapists were prosecuted. In 1870, the year this book is set in, a lowly bar maid sued a middle class man for rape and won the process. What I’m getting at is that rape was a serious offence in Victorian times and more often than not Victorians did not put the blame on the victims. I know this will probably surprise you if you don’t know a lot about Victorian society but that’s just my point: Alison Rattle should know a lot about Victorian society. She writes historical fiction. She should do her research, especially when writing about a serious topic like rape. But what she does instead is rely on old stereotypes about the Victorian age and that just won’t do. I don’t blame any reader for believing this but I do blame authors of historical fiction for being lazy enough to just rely on tropes instead of digging deeper and trying to understand Victorian attitudes to gender, female sexuality and rape. Rattle obviously didn’t or she would have handled Ellen’s rape differently.This is something I noticed time and time again when reading “The Quietness”. In the Victorian age according to Alison Rattle men could do whatever they liked and women could do nothing. Women were always victims, always suffering, always miserable. That’s an easy way to write about Victorian sexism but it’s also wrong and quite honestly absolutely lazy. It was hard being a woman in the 1800s but it’s so much more complex than “men got away with everything and women had no chance at happiness ever”. In fact the “weaknesses of men” Ellen’s father mentions would not have gotten Ellen’s rapist off lightly. Weakness in a man was understood to be a crime all in itself. A man giving in to these weaknesses and raping a woman was basically considered scum. Men could not do as they pleased and get away with it. Women were not always miserable and had no chance at finding happiness ever.Why do authors of historical fiction like to see women suffer so much? Why can’t we have books about what it was really like being a woman in Victorian England? About all the hardships but also about all the ways a woman could work around it and find happiness still?I think any historical author’s biggest task is finding a balance between their research and actual Victorian day to day realities, between what Victorian society might’ve deemed ideal and what Victorians actually behaved like. Like so many others Alison Rattle fails horribly at achieving such a balance. What she does is give us “ideal” Victorians. Cardboard cut outs of what we might think Victorians were like: Prudish, strict, stiff, humourless, repressed, hating women… She seems to have forgotten that Victorians were human with human emotions. She doesn’t find any balance between these Victorian tropes and ideals and what it meant to be a human being with feelings who was socialised in Victorian times.She gives us a Victorian middle class father who finds out his daughter was raped and instead of going after the rapist and pressing charges he calls his daughter a whore and blames her. Because that’s what we think Victorians might’ve done. This might have happened to some girls but it sure as hell wasn’t an everyday reality. And when I read historical fiction, I want to read about everyday realities and real Victorians, not these stereotypes I’ve seen a thousand times before, these “ideal Victorians” based in age old tropes. The Victorian age and its attitudes towards sexuality, gender, bodies and crimes such as rape was much more nuanced and complex than this book wants you to think. And I think it’s a shame the author didn’t bother to delve deeper. But “The Quietness” is shallow, made up of tropes and stereotypes. It might look pretty because Rattle’s writing is good and her idea of the 1870s aesthetic is quite good too, but she apparently doesn’t understand the complexities of Victorian society at all and so “The Quietness” falls flat.OF TROPES AND SHALLOW CHARACTERSBut this isn’t just true for the history bits unfortunately, it’s also true for the story in itself. If you’ve read any historical fiction set in Victorian England before, you’ll feel like you’ve read “The Quietness” before too at least a dozen times. The novel offers absolutely nothing new to the genre. Everything is a trope, there are zero surprises. I know this sounds like an exaggeration but I mean it: Alison Rattle doesn’t stray from post-Victorian fiction tropes one single time. “The Quietness” is basic historical fiction, maybe enjoyable for someone who has never read a book set in 19th century England before but everyone else and especially fans of the genre will feel like they’ve wasted their time.The story is predictable in every way. You will know what secret Ellen’s parents are keeping from her immediately. You will know what Ellen will discover in the end of the novel right away too. It wasn’t fun slugging through 280 pages of Ellen and Queenie being all kinds of clueless and trying to figure out stuff that I already knew. And I didn’t know because I’m Sherlock Holmes and can guess plot twists before they even happen, I knew because Rattle uses the exact same storylines dozens of books have used before without even trying to make them fresh or original. And to add insult to injury she also gives you these hints you can’t even ignore. It’s like she’s always winking, always nudging you going: “Did you see what I said there? Don’t you wanna know what I mean by this?” But you’ve already figured it out because her hints aren’t hints, she’s basically giving away her own plot twists.I’m pretty sure you can already tell from the blurb what’s up with the babies at Queenie’s new employer’s house. The thing is, if you’ve done some research on Victorian era crime as I have since that’s basically what I do, you’ll know what’s happening here anyway the moment Queenie’s employer utters her name: Margaret Waters. When it comes to infamous Victorians nothing can surprise me and I’m pretty sure that name is familiar to you too if you’ve been interested in the dark underbelly of Victorian society before. But even if you have no idea who this woman was, you’ll figure out what she does way before Queenie does and that’s not just because “The Quietness” is predictable but also because Rattle tells you. I could have dealt with the tropes and the boring old storylines if there had at least been any tension but no. Alison Rattle won’t have it.The thing is, tropes are popular for a reason and it’s no crime to use them now and then as long as you use them to build upon, as long as you add some nice twists to them that make your book suspenseful. Rattle just doesn’t and that’s what makes “The Quietness” so bland. That and the characters having no depth whatsoever. They’re also bland cardboard cut outs. Ellen is the lonely daughter of rich parents, leading a quiet and uneventful life. She has no aspirations whatsoever, no goals. All we find out about her is that she likes to read but that’s all. Queenie isn’t much better, we also don’t ever find out what she enjoys or who she really is but at least she had an aspiration I could understand and relate to: Queenie wants to work her way out of poverty and she does everything in her might to achieve this goal. I liked that and I liked Queenie but in the end she was also not much of a character, we learn nothing about her really.OF UNFORGIVABLE ENDINGSWhat bothered me most however was Ellen. She is the most passive character I ever had the displeasure to read about. She does nothing. She lets everything happen to her, but things never happen because of her. I was waiting for her to bristle, to stand up for herself, to become active and stand her ground against all the people who did her wrong but she never really did. The plans she makes are half-hearted and she never goes through with them. Instead she has everything handed to her, mostly by Queenie. And here’s where the book turned really ugly. I’m going to give away the ending and I usually don’t do that but I have to so I can explain why this book is getting such a low rating from me. Please only click the spoiler if you have no intentions of reading “The Quietness” or already have read it.(view spoiler)[The author’s treatment of Queenie is appalling. Queenie is from the lowest class of English society, she’s so poor. All she wants is to be somebody, fight her way out of poverty and be comfortable for once. That’s why she seeks work as a maid and ends up at Margaret Waters’ house. Queenie makes some bad decisions. I don’t approve of her decisions and I don’t want to excuse them but we need to keep in mind that she’s a fifteen year old girl who grew up in the slums and all she ever wanted was to leave that life behind. So what happens in the end is – to me at least – absolutely unforgivably bad.Queenie gets executed. She gets sentenced to death. We could talk about if you should kill off your fifteen year old protagonists in Young Adult fiction like this in general but that’s not my point. My point is that this young girl sacrifices everything for Ellen in the end and what she gets is death. Ellen on the other hand gets everything: She gets the money, she even gets Queenie’s family for crying out loud. There’s an epiloque set eleven years later in which Ellen and Queenie’s brother admire their pretty clothes because look, Queenie’s family is rich now! Basically everyone is getting the only thing that Queenie ever wanted whilst Queenie is dead at fifteen. This ending left me so angry at the author, so sad and uncomfortable. I felt betrayed and somewhat gross. This felt wrong to me. The poor slum girl basically gets thrown under the bus so the rich girl can learn a valuable lesson and be inspired by her death.Eleven years later Queenie isn’t even as much as an afterthought to Ellen and her own damn brother. This girl who spent the whole book trying to be somebody, to achieve something, gets executed for something she didn’t even do and is forgotten by even her own family so that Ellen can have a family and finally be loved or whatever. I kid you not, this is the grossest I have ever felt reading an ending and I can’t even properly explain why I’m so uncomfortable with it. I just feel like what Ellen has in the end, it should have been Queenie’s. She should have at least been part of it. But whilst the rich girl gets everything, the poor slum girl isn’t even worth any kind of redemption. Queenie’s dead and everyone else gets the only thing she ever wanted. I’m really, really uncomfortable with this, especially because it’s a YA book.(hide spoiler)]There are some other weird “messages” in this book I didn’t really like. For instance Ellen is considering getting an abortion but then doesn’t when her old maid calls her evil and a child murderer for even thinking about it. Yes, that’s probably an authentic reaction to abortion for an old Victorian woman but this book is for modern day teenagers and this opinion on abortions is never challenged in anyway. They’re bad and they make you a child murderer, even though you never gave your consent to carrying a baby in the first place, even though Ellen’s been raped and is traumatised to discover she is pregnant against her will aged fifteen. What kind of message, intentional or not, is that? It doesn’t belong in YA fiction at all. I’m giving Rattle the benefit of the doubt here. I’m assuming she just wanted to have the maid react like an old woman in 1870 would react to abortion but it’s still skeevy and demonising.In the end “The Quietness” left a bitter taste in my mouth. It’s unoriginal and tropey, the author apparently doesn’t understand Victorian society at all, it’s predictable, the characters have no depths whatsoever and the author’s treatment of one character in particular left me deeply uncomfortable and angry. The thing is, the ending might’ve worked, had the book been more nuanced. Had the characters felt more real, had Victorian society and its attitude towards gender, sexuality and bodies been portrayed more authentically, more complex and nuanced. This book could have been an insightful historical drama about poverty, Victorian society and what it meant to be a woman in the 1800s but it’s just not. It’s shallow and way too black and white, there aren’t any nuances at all.I’m giving this book 2.5 points. One point for Queenie, who I really liked despite her lack of depth, one point for the pretty writing style and the dark Victorian atmosphere, half a point for the premise that could’ve been so much more with a lot more work and research. I would have given the book a point more because it’s literally basic historical fiction. It’s readable even though it’s bland, it’s atmospheric and even though you see all the plot twists coming, it’s entertaining enough, if not enjoyable because it’s way too dark and depressing, especially for Young Adult fiction. But I have to knock the rating down because of that ending and all the weird messages. “The Quietness” made me uncomfortable in the very worst way and I still feel icky thinking about it, even though it’s been days since I finished it.This review can also be found at The Bookabelles book blog!

  • Zoe
    2019-04-20 00:11

    I haven't had much luck with historical fiction so accepting The Quietness for review was a risk. The books that I have read set in the past have been boring and slow-paced which put me off the genre - however, this book has completely changed my opinion!Even though I don't have much to compare it too, so this review may be slightly biased, I still believe that The Quietness is a great novel. I have always loved history so it was a shame that I didn't have the same passion for historical fiction. The storyline is so interesting and I learnt a lot as well as enjoy the book. The author's note was fascinating too - it is amazing to think that only one source of inspiration could conjure up a whole book.The main basis of the book is set around baby farming. This is a black market process in the nineteenth century which new-born babies are taken in by other people in exchange for a large sum of money. People did this because having a baby without being married was seen as the ultimate sin; their lives would be ruined if they didn't get rid of the baby. The mother would therefore hide for 9 months and have the baby without being seen as a 'fallen woman'. I really liked how the story was told through two different points - Queenie and Ellen. Queenie lives in a big family and has little money. She struggles with stealing even a small bit of bread and can't bear the sight of seeing her mother turn to prostitution. As she is desperate, she leaves home and seeks a job and seems to have found the perfect one. Ellen, on the other hand, has a completely different lifestyle. She is rich and lives with her father and a loving maid. When an encounter with her cousin goes unexpected, her life in turn upside down.Despite the girls having totally different lifestyles, it was really interesting to see links between them at the beginning. For example, Queenie wished nothing more than quietness and Ellen wants anything but quietness. Also, they both have a female adult figure that they can look up to. The author is so talented - it also made me feel like a true book nerd too ;)If you are like how I used to be and don't like historical fiction, then read this book! It will totally change your perspective. However, if you love historical fiction, read this too! I can't wait to start reading more historical fiction books. Any recommendations?

  • Beth
    2019-05-10 00:39

    This book was very, very good. I loved both Queenie and Ellen, you really took to them from the first page of each of their stories. Ellen's Father was vile and sinister and you think that Queenie's Dad is horrible and cruel but the story changes your view of him by the end. I thought Jacob was nice at first so it was a shock when you find out about him and you really feel for Ellen when that happens. I did guess one of the twists in the story from about a third of the way in but the story unfolded brilliantly with the author just giving you enough to know what she was building up to within each segment of the girls' lives. The two sisters were so disgraceful and heartless especially Mrs. Waters but I fely sorry a little bit for Mrs.Ellis as I don't think she was as disgusting as her sister. If you like historical novels then this is an especially good one to read.

  • Megan Ruddy
    2019-05-13 02:27

    I was lent this by my English teacher who thought that I would enjoy it, knowing that I love Victorian novels and enjoy it I did. The story is beautifully written, following two girls from very different backgrounds. I was very interested to read in the notes that the story is based in fact and the baby farming sisters were real characters tried for farming. I thoroughly enjoyed The Quietness.

  • Fleur Hitchcock
    2019-04-23 22:24

    Would really like to give this book 4 and a half stars - I was totally wrapt, and loved it, my only complaint, and it was teeny and tiny, was that I loved the character that we were held back from, more than the one in the first person, and it pulled me out of the story. However, would utterly recommend it.

  • Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
    2019-05-06 18:21

    Another audio book. Gosh am I getting through them.This was wonderfully narrated, with the performer giving a defined set of characteristics for each character, which really brought the story to life.There were times when I thought "I've read this before" but that's only because this book references real historical villains and I'm a lover of all things history.Full review to come.

  • Natasha Ngan
    2019-04-22 21:25

    An absorbing, simply but beautifully written book that follows the intertwined lives of two girls in Victorian London. I fell hard for both girls - Queenie for her sheer determination and strength in the face of injustice, and Ellen for her rebellious streak and the sadness of a life without love - and really felt each turn of the story with them. A truly affecting little book.

  • Ella
    2019-05-16 19:38


  • Georgia (The Bibliomaniac Book Blog)
    2019-05-04 18:33

    Review also on my blog @ :)The eldest child of a poor family living in the slums of London, Queenie, dreams of a better life with more money. When she finds an advertisement for a job working at the house of two sisters, Mrs Waters and Miss Ellis, she runs away from home to begin work as a carer for the many babies that the two sisters own. The babies came from women who had no husbands and did not want to be looked down upon in society, so hid away for months in the Waters and Ellis house, gave birth, then carried on with their lives leaving the child behind. All the while, babies are slowly disappearing, with Miss Waters claiming that they have been adopted. But Queenie is getting suspicious, and is determined to track down the truth of the baby farm.In a higher-class part of London, a girl of the same age as Queenie called Ellen is living a lonely life inside of a house in which nobody cares about her. When her handsome cousin Jacob comes to stay after the death of his mother, Ellen begins to feel less lonely. But after a huge betrayal from Jacob, Ellen is about to fall into Queenie’s life in the strangest way, and together they will solve the crime behind the ‘baby farming’, become the greatest of friends, and discover something that will change their whole lives forever…I really enjoyed this! I wasn’t sure I’d really get into the story; I don’t read historical fiction much; but I really got hooked on it, and couldn’t stop reading. I liked the switching of the narratives every other chapter, and how the two girls come together and discover they are related under coincidental circumstances. Both teenagers came from very different, very interesting… at points frightful backgrounds, and I loved reading about them. I think that, after reading the authors note, the story became so much more real. Alison Rattle said that she had stumbled across the characters of Miss Waters and Miss Ellis and their crimes of Baby Farming whilst researching for something else. It was really shocking to hear that the events in this book were actually based on something that had really happened before!The whole crime conspiracy building throughout the book kept me guessing about the ending, and when it came to the final pages I was shocked at the unpredictable closing paragraphs. It really tugged at my heartstrings- the unfortunate death of my favorite character (I’m not saying any names!).Overall, The Quietness made for a really riveting, well written read. Highly recommended for YA’s and Adults alike!

  • Hannah
    2019-04-21 22:17

    This is a brutal read. And I mean that in the best way possible. I know, it sounds odd to mark that as a good thing, but this story wouldn't work without the brutality. To soften the description would ruin the impact. It's quite fearless storytelling and it's all the better for it.Queenie is brilliant. She's tough but at the same time quite naive. She's unprepared for the world beyond her family and the slum they live in and watching her slow realisation to what she's know all along, and not wanted to see, with her new life is utterly engrossing.Ellen isn't quite as feisty as Queenie, but when she finds her strength it's quite something. It's solid, dependable Mary who shows her courage in the small ways that matter in the long run.This is an unashamedly dark, tense story that pulls no punches. I've been trying to think of a way to review it without spoiling it too much, so forgive me if this all seems a little brief. It's a fascinating read, but not a comfortable one and the ending... as much as I didn't want it to it ended exactly the way it had to.I would definitely recommend this, but I would say to bear in mind that this is set in Victorian London and women are treated by the standards of the time. If that's not your thing, then walk on by. But it is a damn good read.For this and other reviews check out my blog.

  • Karen
    2019-04-24 01:15

    I actually want to give this book 3 1/2 stars.I loved the short, sharp, snappy chapters that switched from the one lead character to the other. They did not allow the reader to get bored at any point. My problem was that I became more interested in one of the characters, and so wanted to hurry back to her story to the detriment of the other. In addition, I initially found the switch between a first and third person narrator disconcerting, although I can understand, as events unfolded, why this was used.As the plot progressed, I felt that it took too long for the two girls to meet. Once they had, however, events truly picked up and the book moved towards an excellent conclusion.I was interested in the 'baby farming' background of the plot and was hoping for an appendix which would give a little more detail about both that and about the real Margaret Waters. My uncorrected proof didn't contain anything, which I felt was a shame. I always enjoy learning more about the factual backgrounds that have been used well in fictional writing.

  • Ticklish Owl
    2019-04-30 00:16

    If you liked this book, you might also enjoy:✱ The Cure for Dreaming✱ The Great Trouble✱ The Devil in the White City✱ A Drowned Maiden's Hair✱ Blue Asylum✱ Amelia Dyer

  • Tiz. T.
    2019-05-04 23:20

    A very good YA with NO romance! Huzzah! This book was interesting, well written and engaging.The two protagonists show two facet of Victorian's life: the rich lady and the slum gal. Yet, not everything is as sparkly, nor as glum as it seems. The hypocrisy of the time is also well exemplified, their disgusting view of women and the importance of "keeping the face" in spite of everything which was the true reason everything went downhill...The sad tale of the baby farms and the often sad fate of bastard's children is also rotted in reality. I found the ending to be bittersweet but realistic, if sad.WARNING: there is a scene of rape in the book, so if you are triggered you should avoid it.

  • Sallyann Van leeuwen
    2019-05-08 00:36

    3.5 stars. Fascinating story of two young girls in Victorian England. Queenie lives in the slums with her family who can't afford to keep them all feed and the other, a daughter of an upper class gentlemen. Both are trapped in their worlds, by their circumstances. When Queenie gets a job at a big house assisting with newborn babies, she is sure that she has the experience to keep them happy and safe. But these babies aren't like her little brothers and sisters, these babies are still and unusually quiet. When the two girls paths cross, they both experience that things that seem too good to be true inevitably are. Characters were a bit flat, but I really enjoyed the historical aspect.

  • Josie
    2019-05-17 21:27

    [Audiobook version]This just didn't do it for me. I enjoyed the overly dramatic audio narration, and appreciated the realistic ending (view spoiler)[Queenie absolutely deserved to die for being so useless (hide spoiler)] but the story itself was pretty thin -- the two main characters were passive and reactive, and I wanted to shake them into DOING SOMETHING. Also, I CAN'T IGNORE THIS: Ellen's father collects her bloody rags every time she has a period because ??? reasons??? No one in Ellen's house bats an eyelid at this, like it's completely normal. Her father is an anatomist and this seems to be all the explanation needed for why he does creepy shit. I just. Idek, okay.

  • For Books' Sake
    2019-04-20 01:15

    "The first YA novel by Alison Rattle, who has previous co-authored several non-fiction books about a wide range of subjects, The Quietness is a gripping, harrowing thriller about the emotive and repellent subject of Victorian baby farming.When fourteen year old Queenie’s Da runs off after another of her siblings dies of starvation, Queenie’s Mam turns to prostitution to feed her family." (Excerpt from full review at For Books' Sake.)

  • Aldi
    2019-04-21 19:12

    This was really good, although I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is overly fond of babies! Pretty grim stuff, but clearly well-researched, and the characters were wonderful - I loved the friendship developing between the two girls. The ending took me by surprise a bit, though (view spoiler)[(even in Victorian England, I doubt a 15-year-old girl would be hanged under these circumstances, if there was no evidence of her personal wrongdoing, and she'd been the one to alert the police).(hide spoiler)]

  • Sue Hyams
    2019-05-08 18:34

    Enjoyed this very much. A hard hitting story with a bitter sweet ending, the author pulls no punches at times. She paints a very good picture of Victorian society and the characters are well drawn. I felt that at times there wasn't enough sense of place but the story is more than strong enough to pull you in and keep you there.

  • Kirsti
    2019-04-21 23:18

    I have actually read a factual account of baby farming, and I felt like this book captured a lot of those elements really well. What I didn't like, and that was the cause of the three stars, was the characters and how I connected to them within the story. I wanted to, but it never happened. I'm having a run of a few only OK books, I wonder if it's me or just a reading slump?

  • Tina
    2019-04-29 20:25

    This wasn't quite the story I expected when I started reading. I kept wanting to shake both girls and make them wake up and see the real-world around them. I think that's why I found the ending so satisfying. Both pay for their mistakes, in very different ways. If they'd both gotten their happily-ever-afters I think I'd've rated this book much lower.

  • Deidre(Dee) ~ Official Bookworm ~
    2019-05-08 22:29

    I just loved this book. The story of two young girls, living in different levels of society, in London, in the 1800's, who are brought together, by an unexpected occurrence, was just such an amazing read. I am thinking of buying it too!

  • Rachel McKitterick
    2019-04-28 20:35

    Wow.... how else can i sum this book up?! Based on part truth, with some of the characters actually existing back in the 1870s. This book has dark topics which the author isnt afraid of talking about. Its unfortunate to know things like baby farms existed.