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Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding
  

Painter of Silence

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Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012.

An intimate and devastating portrait of Romania during and after the Second World War, through the prism of a moving and utterly original friendship

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Synopsis

Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORANGE PRIZE FOR FICTION 2012 When she leaves the ward she feels the whiteness of the room still inside her, as if she is bleached out inside. It is the shock, she tells herself. She feels the whiteness like a dam holding back all the coloured flood of memory. Iasi, Romania, the early 1950s. A man is found on the steps of a hospital, frail as a fallen bird. He carries no identification and utters no words, and it is days before anyone discovers that he is deaf and mute. And then a young nurse called Safta brings paper and pencils with which he can draw. Slowly, painstakingly, memories appear on the page: a hillside, a stable, a car, a country house, dogs and mirrored rooms and samovars in what is now a lost world. The memories are Safta's also. For the man is Augustin, son of the cook at the manor at Poiana that was her family home. Born six months apart, they grew up with a connection that bypassed words. But while Augustin's world remained the same size Safta's expanded to embrace languages, society - and love, as Augustin watched one long hot summer, in the form of a fleeting young man in a green Lagonda. Safta left before the war. Augustin stayed. But even in the wide hills and valleys around Poiana he did not escape its horrors. He watched uncomprehending as armies passed through the place. Then the Communists came, and he found himself their unlikely victim. There are things that he must tell Safta that may be more than simple drawings can convey. Beautiful, spare and intense, Painter of Silence captures the loss and the hope of a tragic time through the extraordinary vision of a mute outsider.

Reviews

'Georgina Harding conjures a tale that recalls vintage Michael Ondaatje ... A novel about the passage of time, the senselessness of war, and the need to find and preserve meaning, this is a richly satisfying read' Daily Mail

'I loved Painter of Silence. It was like entering a dream world that became more and more real, until I actually needed to get back to it. Her writing is so gentle and beautiful and takes you so confidently on a journey. I let myself be carried away. Heaven' Esther Freud

'Harding's prose is a quiet storm of imagery and emotions ... The rubble and ruin of post-war Romania is tenderly rendered ... it's a heartrending predicament expertly realised. Painter of Silence is further testament to a talent gradually sculpting an impressive body of work. It proves as smooth and serene as a slow incoming tide; the story washing over the pages until the reader is immersed in its depths. This is fiction of the most graceful kind' Independent

'A must-read ... Hauntingly beautiful, for fans of The English Patient' -- Viv Groskop, Red

About the Author

Georgina Harding

Georgina Harding is the author of two novels: The Solitude of Thomas Cave and The Spy Game, a BBC Book at Bedtime; and two works of non-fiction: Tranquebar and In Another Europe. She lives in London and the Stour Valley, Essex.

Author photo © Mark Pringle

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Book Info

Publication date

26th April 2012

Author

Georgina Harding

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Publisher

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Format

Paperback
320 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9781408830420

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