It’s been a week since the funeral, and Mali is at her mother’s Manhattan apartment ready to pack it up—at least that’s what she thinks—until she discovers a manila envelope, propped up against the back of her mother’s desk, and filled with a mass of unsent letters. Her mother’s handwriting on the lined notepaper is so familiar, and the slight German accent Mali hears ticking through her words, so haunting.
Mali reads the memories of her mother’s Jewish childhood in 1930s Berlin, then her life in war-torn London. But when she comes to her mother’s account of her too-early marriage and the divorce that forced her to leave her young daughter in London and go to New York, Mali is thrust back into her own unhappy childhood, where that relentless ache for her absent mother, lodged like a stony pit inside her, must now be reconciled.
Moving, touching; emotions hitting me like a lapping of waves on a shoreline.
I felt like sadness and pride were being poured on to the pages all at once.
My heart was utterly engaged with Mali’s.
Our emotional scars carry through generations whether we believe we are allowing them to be or not. What is the weight of them?
Silence can also be deafening.
Mother’s and Daughters are much more bonded than we can imagine. Mali and her mother were like that, and her mother knew it.
(I see it viscerally as an electrical current…It’s a bit unseen when working and flowing well, but has bite to it and a fire can start when something isn’t going well.)
Mali and her mother have so much to work through, even after death. The beauty with which Jacquie writes is as melodic as the heart beating between them.
I love stories told through letters. This one has extra meaning because it covered times in history I enjoy reading about.
“The Circumference of Silence” by Jacquie Herz is a novel I won’t soon forget.
Brilliant debut novel!
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
About The Author:
I was born in London, shortly after World War II, to a family of Jewish refugees who had managed to flee Hitler’s Europe—just in time, as the saying goes! When I was eight my parents divorced, and my mother left London to go and live with her own parents who had already immigrated to New York. So, coming to America to be with my mother was my childhood’s life-long dream! And because letter-writing was the only way to communicate with her at the time, writing became an integral and necessary part of my life from that very early age. I was also an avid reader and could easily spend hours at a time inside the halls of my imagination. At thirteen I was sent away to boarding school in Eastbourne, England. And at sixteen, after eight long years of dreaming, I finally arrived in New York, a trunk full of my belongings in tow.
Thankfully, I had a very forgiving chemistry teacher who gave me the passing grade I needed to graduate from the small private high school I was attending in Forest Hills, Queens. College proved just as difficult for me. After leaving at the end of my sophomore year, I went to work at the main branch of the New York Public Library and started back on my mission to complete my degree by taking courses, at first at Brooklyn Community College, and later at Syracuse University, where my husband, Peter, was getting his MBA. After we moved to Connecticut and while Peter and I were running our first business and raising our two young daughters, I graduated with honors from the University of Bridgeport with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing.
During our business life, Peter and I launched and sold three companies. Our second was for an accounting/marketing software package that we developed for the Promotional Products Industry. Responsible for writing the manual, I also provided the software support, as well as the training, which required us to visit clients’ offices all over the country. Working in our latest business, my day-to-day job entailed running the factory. In order to source the many products we needed to add to a new catalogue we published every year, we traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia.
All through those years, I managed to steal enough time to write and attend writers’ conferences and workshops; I was so fortunate to have had the most amazing teachers.
I have been published in the Metropolitan Diary and the Connecticut Section of the New York Times. I am a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the Women’s National Book Association.
After transferring the company to our eldest daughter and her husband, Peter and I currently split our year between Connecticut and Florida. Happily, I am a fulltime writer now and busy at work on my next novel—about a young woman named Hannah.
Watch Jacquie in a panel discussion: World Studios presents Special Edition: Annie & her guests chat about the challenges of writing about the Holocaust.
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