“Our lives are like anyone else’s, I have to believe. A simple gathering of facts, of sad little coincidences, with no discernable pattern. Random twists of direction are all anyone can expect, twists that can turn into tragedy and overwhelm you, against which we have tried to defend ourselves by burying them in the basement of our souls, by building a wall of silence to lean on.”
Emma Perotti has a good life. She is a teacher of English as a second language to recent immigrants to the U.S. She has a loving husband, and a smart teenaged son. To onlookers, she seems to have the perfect life. But appearances can be deceiving, and Emma’s pristine façade hides a series of secrets that threatens to bring her life crumbling down around her.
When a young student, An-ling Huang, walks into Emma’s classroom, Emma cannot help but be intrigued. She senses in the girl a desire for something more than simply learning a language, and when An-ling doesn’t return to her class, Emma chooses to seek her out. When she brings An-ling home to meet her family, her husband, Tom, resents the intrusion. As she continues to spend more time with An-ling and attempts to include her in family life, Tom grows increasingly angry, finally giving Emma an ultimatum – her family, or An-ling.
When Emma chooses to leave home and move in with An-ling, her family is devastated, but An-ling clings even closer. As the two women grow closer, An-ling begins to reveal more and more of her life. Suddenly, the innocent young woman seeking a mother’s love disappears, and something more sinister takes her place. Emma begins to realize An-ling is not what she seems, and when An-ling betrays her trust, Emma moves back home with her husband and son.
Shortly after Emma returns home, An-ling is found dead in her apartment. When the evidence points to Emma, she finds herself on trial for murder. As the trial progresses, each woman’s secrets are revealed, and Emma learns how much choosing to remain silent can really cost.
In her first novel written under her own name (previous novels had been published as Camilla Crespi), Trinchieri gives readers a fascinating legal thriller as well as a heartbreaking family novel. She alternates nearly news-report-like descriptions of the trial with sections of the memories, thoughts, and feelings of her main characters. By revealing the events of the story little by little, she increases the suspense, keeping the reader glued to the page, unable to put the book down.
By using alternating narrators, she introduces the reader to Emma, Tom, and their son, Josh, as the three main characters, and gives each a distinct, truthful voice. Each character has their own secrets, and
in the revelation of those secrets Trinchieri truly shines. When Tom and Emma, in separate sections of the novel, each express their guilt and sorrow about situations from their past, the reader feels their heart break along with them. Her exploration of the damage that silence can inflict is fascinating, and her treatment of the complex relationships that exist within a family is compelling.
The Price of Silence is an excellent novel, full of excitement and emotion. Fans of the legal thriller, as well as those who love family drama, will enjoy this great read. I highly recommend it, and look forward to reading more by this author in the future.