Book Review – The Silent Woman by Anna Maria De Los Rios

The novel Annarella Livejasmin is set in Naples, Italy during the 19th century. A twenty-one-year-old writer named Anna Maria Montessori is researching information for a paper she is compiling on Naples during this period. Her research takes her to the ancient town of Vittoria. While there, she meets with Countessampel, a Naples widow who has three daughters whom she adopted as her wards. Anna Maria Montessori decides to purchase a cottage on a hill overlooking the sea from which she will be able to watch the ships sailing into the harbor.

On one evening, as Anna Maria and her sister Natasa are washing vegetables, Anna Maria discovers an unusual item among the washbasins. This leads them to an opening ceremony, which had been previously held hundreds of years ago. During the ceremony, the dead body of a cardinal was put on a pyre while its armor, including its crown, was burned on the pyre. Countessampel relates that the cardinal’s spirit could not leave the body because it was wrapped in cloth. But the spirit manages to escape from the cloth and falls to earth. In order to protect her sister, Anna Maria flushes the cardinal’s blood and covers the cardinal’s body with a cloth.

Anna Maria then sets out to look for the spirit of the cardinal’s son. However, she soon learns that the spirit has been trapped within a bottle. So she breaks the bottle and flushes the contents. But what comes of this? Is there a meaning to what happens? And why are the events unfolding before Anna Maria’s eyes?

I believe I’m going to give the book three stars. The scenes involving Anna Maria and Countessampel are the best parts of the story. Livejasmin has managed to create a sympathetic character and this, coupled with her outstanding writing style, makes this book a pleasant read. One thing I thought the author did a poor job of was creating an overall plot for the novel. The events were happening off and on for most of the book and it seemed as though the events were becoming less cohesive as the book neared the end.

Anna Maria and Countessampel had a love of mystery and the book offered a good deal of that throughout its length. I also liked how Livejasmin kept readers interested in what was happening, even when it wasn’t really happening. There were moments when the story focused on certain elements but often made it too obvious what was taking place. As with any mystery, I think the more time you spend unraveling the clues, the better your experience will be.

“The Silent Woman” is a strong debut novel. I liked the character development and the way Livejasmin wrote about it. I’d recommend “The Silent Woman” to readers who enjoy strong female characters and have an interest in history and fiction. For someone looking for a good read with some romance and suspense, this one should fit that bill.