By: Cynthia J. Bogard
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: March 7, 2023
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: December 16, 2022
In Cynthia J. Bogard’s first book of her Heartland Trilogy, A History of Silence, the stage is set for a phenomenal journey of colossal intrigue.
Meet Jenny. She is the daughter of Johnathan Wharton the Fifth and Liz Wharton. Johnny is a university history professor who teaches Roman Christianity at the local university in Pine Hill Station, Texas. He is also a direct descendant of the infamous Wharton family; a legacy Texas ‘planter family’ that transcends many generations. Jenny’s mother Liz doesn’t stand out quite as much as daddy, however. She works as a tax preparer to supplement Johnny’s university salary. Jenny doesn’t have much love for either parent, but the animosity she has for her mother is blatantly obvious. As the happy family home continues to crumble, it’s no surprise a few years later when Jenny applies to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. When she's accepted, it's a no-brainer for her to decide to attend. At last, her escape forever from both Johnny and Liz is on her horizon and her plans are to never look back.
Madeline (Maddie) Haystead is a Professor of History at the same Pine Hill Station university where Johnny teaches. She loves Roz with all her heart. Unfortunately, it’s inherent their kind of love can’t be put on display. Even though it’s the 1980’s, lesbianism isn’t openly accepted in these parts, let alone a bi-racial couple. When things were great between Maddie and Roz, Pine Hill Station was tolerable at best, and it was also perfect for both of them given they both had teaching positions at the university. When matters take a turn south between Maddie and Roz, Maddie struggles. "...During the time Roz was the center of my universe, this place proved tolerable enough. Now I wondered how I could have wasted my talents at this third-rate institution, with its legions of half-literate students warming a seat in my class to complete their history requirement. Most of the students here are business majors or future CPAs, bound for management jobs in some chain store or cookie-cutter accounting firm. All but empty minds, embarking on empty, insipid lives..."
Jane is from a small farm town outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There’s not much of a future here for Jane and now that it’s just her mom and her, when she receives the internship at the university in Pine Hill Station, Texas, maybe this was just what Jane needed to venture out into the unknown. Was it a coincidence that this opportunity happened to be under the guidance of one Johnny Warton the Fifth? For that matter, how could all roads lead to an ultimate connection and union of all these women? There are a lot of bumps and surprises along the road ahead and only time and circumstances will provide the answers to this question.
Cynthia J. Bogard’s novel, A History of Silence, is akin to a thousand-piece puzzle that you cannot walk away from until the last piece is in place. It is riveting perfection on many levels thanks to the obvious connection she has with each character. Alone, they carry the storyline; together they blow this epic novel out of the water! There is nothing predictable in this body of work. The complexities and precise personalities of each character is fantastic. We have Jenny who is rebellious, angry, and mule-headed; contrasted by Jane (same age as Jenny) who is meek, uncertain, and afraid of her own shadow. They also have a traumatic childhood that has a lot of situations in common. Liz and Johnny are essentially polar opposites and, in many ways, the only thing they have in common is the birth of their daughter Jenny. Maddie and Roz are not only a racially blended couple, but they are lesbians as well and they are living in an era when this was ‘frowned upon’ on many levels. There is an instant connection with all of Bogard’s moving parts and the flow is superb. She has a seesaw style that devotes stand alone chapters for each character, but she plants fantastic seeds that sow the sum of all together from chapter to chapter. I am thrilled to know this is ‘Book One’ in her Heartland Trilogy series. Well done Ms. Bogard and let me just say I cannot wait for the next book in this series.
Quill says: A History of Silence is an epic, must read that will have the reader turning pages at warp speed from beginning to end.
For more information on A History of Silence (Book One of the Heartland Trilogy), please visit the author's website at: www.cynthiajbogard.com/