Days in the History of Silence by Merethe Lindstrøm


I was the one who let him in.

Later I called him the intruder, but he did not break in. He rang the doorbell as anyone at all might have done, and I opened the door. It unsettles me still when I think about it. Really that could be what bothers me most. He rang the doorbell, and I opened the door.

So mundane.

When I read the first few pages of Days in the History of Silence I thought I will be captivated by the story. But then it trickled to a rather tedious pace, although its prose is beautifully written. 😦

The story revolves around Eva and Simon, an elderly Norwegian married couple with three grown daughters. Both Eva and Simon have events in their past they keep hidden from their children and others. We learn Eva had a son out of wedlock, who she gave up for adoption when he was six months old. And Simon, we learn, is a survivor of the Holocaust.

For most part of the novel, Simon is silent. He is somewhat older than Eva, so he could be suffering from dementia, or it could be that survivor’s guilt drove him to silence, after his efforts to find family members who went missing turned out to be futile.

He never told them about it, although he planned and practiced all these evenings, nights, days, when he went over the painful aspects of the past with me. Instead he became more and more silent.

Throughout the novel I felt more empathetic towards Simon than Eva. I thought had Eva been more supportive, Simon would have been able to tell their children of his loss. Perhaps Eva was not fond of the idea of telling their children of his past because she did not want to share her’s with them, but I can not help it but think Simon’s unrevealed past became a constant burden to him, eating him up inside.


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