Welcome back to the bookclub! In July, we read The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell for The You’ll Read Too Bookclub! If you wish to access all of the latest updates/information, click here. Spoilers ahead!
Quick Reminder: This month we are reading ‘Ring Shout’ by P. Djeli Clark.
Today I’m going to discuss the book in the same way I normally do the IGTV videos. You can find the IGTV video for this talk and others on my bookclub Instagram page. I’ll give a quick plot summary plus my overall star/scare-factor ratings. Then I will share the discussion topics and trivia questions. Please include all of your answers and opinions down below. I want to know exactly what you thought. I’ll also leave the answers to the trivia questions at the very bottom of the post, so if you wish to guess without being spoiled, do not scroll to the end until you’re ready. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
THE SILENT COMPANIONS by LAURA PURCELL – JULY 2021
When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure —a silent companion —-that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition–that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her…
OVERALL STAR RATING
I gave this a whopping 5/5 stars! This is one of the best gothic horror novels I have ever read. It started off slow but by 100 pages, I was deeply invested until the end. It was creepy, intriguing, fascinating and heartbreaking all at the same time. I really enjoyed the way it was told in different timelines. It is definitely worth multiple re-reads. The author did such an excellent job weaving alternative story-lines together. Not to mention that ending! I have nothing but good things to say about this book.
OVERALL SCARE-FACTOR RATING
I gave this book a scare factor of 4/5 stars. The wooden figures were so unsettling. I love how they moved around when nobody was watching. I could picture them following the residents with their eyes. They were ruthless, determined and vengeful. I wanted more!
1.) Do you believe Anne was being punished for her greed?
I don’t think it is greedy to want another child desperately. In this day and age, there are so many medical avenues you can take to help fertility. Anne used more primitive measures for the time period she lived in. I don’t believe she was punished. I believe it was just bad luck and her daughter’s circumstances that led to such unfortunate events.
2.) What do you think was the role/purpose of the silent companions?
I believe their role was to exact vengeance on anybody that lived at the estate. Hattie in particular was looking for the perfect host to possess. She wanted retribution for what was done to her and didn’t believe anybody else deserved to live happily when she was denied so much as a child.
3.) Did you find Elsie to be a likable and reliable protoganist?
Elsie was such an interesting character. She was born into a less than prestigious family and yet she came across as very haughty and entitled. I felt for her as the story progressed but in the beginning, she was not very likable. As for reliable, it was difficult to tell what were her own manifestations of trauma and the actual truth. The answer to both of those questions: no.
4.) Let’s discuss the ableism controversy? Do you agree?
This book has received some negative critiques due to its claims of ableism. Basically, because Hattie was born mute and turns out to be the villain, some readers believe the author was attributing her disability as something bad. I don’t agree. In my opinion, Laura Purcell wanted to convey what it was like being disabled in the 16th century. In those times it was seen as a curse, which in turn caused Anne to question whether she was being punished. Hattie was not evil because she was mute. She was a child processing a lot of hurt and pain at being discriminated against. There are many layers to this story but it’s important not to seek out issues where there are none.
5.) What theories did you have before the shocking ending?
I had a couple. The first was that the staff at the estate were messing with Elsie because they did not like her. I thought they were purposely moving the wooden figures around and causing confusion with the nursery. The second was that Elsie’s trauma was driving her to do and see terrible things. The ending proved just how wrong I was!
Easy: What is the name of the estate?
Medium: What is the name of the Romani boy?
Hard: Which part of the world did the silent companions come from?
I hope you enjoyed the book club discussion in this post and on Instagram. As mentioned above, share all of your thoughts in the comments below! If you have any feedback/suggestions to improve the bookclub, please let me know. I look forward to talking to you all next month! Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo
TRIVIA ANSWERS: Easy: The Bridge. Medium: Merripen. Hard: Amsterdam.